Friday, May 18, 2018

UK: Oxford’s Pakistan Society criticised for not screening Dr. Abdus Salam documentary

PakSoc leaders have been accused of discrimination and bigotry against the Ahmadi religious minority following their alleged lack of support for a documentary screening

Times of Ahmad | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Cherwell.Org
By Isabel Morris | May 18, 2018

The leaders of Oxford’s Pakistan Society have been accused of “intolerance and bigotry” against the Ahmadi religious minority after they allegedly neglected to screen a documentary about Dr Abdus Salam.

The documentary, which was screened on 12th May by the Oxford University Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (OUAMSA), described the life and achievements of Salam, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.

Salam, who identified as an Ahmadi (or Ahmadiyya) Muslim, was the first Pakistani to win a Nobel Prize.

Ahmadis face constant discrimination and ostracisation in Pakistan, where they were declared “non-Muslims” under Pakistani law in 1974 – a stance which has been repeatedly criticised by the international community.

Accordingly, very little is known about Salam’s achievements in his home country. Though the inscription on Salam’s headstone in Pakistan originally read “The First Muslim Nobel Laureate”, the word “Muslim” has since been chipped away by vandals.

PakSoc and the Oxford University Islamic Society were allegedly contacted by OUAMSA President and Oxford PhD student, Noman Chaudhry, in January about co-hosting the documentary screening. The PakSoc committee at the time allegedly expressed willingness to co-host the event.

In the months that followed, Cherwell understands that the PakSoc committee debated whether or not to co-host the event, making the eventual decision to co-host the screening.

However, the society failed to make their support for the event public until the day of the screening when they shared the event on their Facebook page. In the end, PakSoc did not co-host the event.

Chaudhry declined Cherwell‘s requests for comment. In an earlier statement, he said: “I contacted Pakistani Society two months ago about the screening. I had numerous chats with the committee members, including the President, at various events.

“I was told that they were still discussing the matter and that they had other events to focus on, and that there were reservations within the society.”

The Oxford University Pakistan Society told Cherwell: “There was never any objection to the Society fully supporting the screening and encouraging our Members to attend.

“Subsequent to this, there was a failure and significant lack of urgency on the part of the Committee to formally communicate this to AMSA Oxford in due time.

“Due to a lengthy decision-making process, and ample back-and-forth debates within committee, we failed within this time to carry out even the promotional support that everybody on Committee had by unanimous consensus agreed to extend to this event.

The society added: “Any suggestion that the Oxford University Pakistan Society is in any way opposed to the rights of the Ahmadiyya Community or to the recognition of Abdus Salam’s incommensurate achievements are inaccurate and we sincerely regret that our actions have implied otherwise.

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