Washington. US lawmakers on Friday announced a caucus to fight for the rights of the Ahmadi minority, which has faced attacks in Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Islamic world.
The creation of a caucus — a group in the US Congress that shares an agenda — is primarily symbolic in itself but lays the groundwork for lawmakers to be more active.
Republican Representative Frank Wolf, the co-chair with Democrat Jackie Speier, said the Ahmadiyah Muslim Caucus would press for the rights of Ahmadis in trouble in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
"We have an obligation. America cannot be silent," Wolf told an event at Congress launching the caucus.
Imam Naseem Mahdi, national vice president and missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyah Muslim Community USA, said that the caucus would advocate not just for Ahmadis but "for the rights of all persecuted religious communities in the world."
"In time, we hope that foreign governments that persecute our community or otherwise permit militants to attack Ahmadi Muslims with impunity will take notice of the caucus," he said.
Pakistan declared in 1974 that Ahmadis were non-Muslims. The community has faced rising attacks, including a 2010 assault on Lahore mosques that killed nearly 100 people.
Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but Ahmadis there have also faced violence, including a deadly 2011 rampage in West Java by a mob trying to prevent Ahmadis from worshiping.
Ahmadis differ sharply with most Muslims by believing that their 19th-century founder, Ghulam Ahmad, was a messiah after the Prophet Mohammed. The Ahmadiyah community in the United States has stressed its peaceful nature and organizes annual blood donation drives to coincide with the September 11, 2001 attacks.