Nida Ul Nasser case leads to MeToo reckoning for jamaat
After Nida Ul Nasser, a second person, this time a man, has come forward with allegations of sexual abuse, ratcheting up a Me Too reckoning of the closed-off Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya
The latest story came to the light from the chair of the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Dr Muhammad Afzal Upal. “I was six years old when an older male relative sexually abused me. He was visiting our house in Rabwah, Pakistan, the then worldwide headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community,” said 51-year-old Dr Upal, an Ahmadi, in his column published Wednesday. “Staying quiet is no longer an option for us; the safety of our children depends on us raising our voices and holding our leaders accountable.”
Dr Upal’s revelations come months after those of Nida Ul Nasser, 36, who has alleged being sexually molested from early childhood to the age of 25. She spoke of a long history of sexual abuse by her father and by close family members of the global leader of the community. Furthermore, a recording surfaced in December of the leader telling her to remain silent or face the system of the Jamaat, which could lead to her excommunication. The UK police is investigating Nida’s case.
Talking Samaa Digital, Dr Upal said he is an Ahmadi and is in favour of the system of the Jamaat and wants to make it accountable, transparent and safe for his children as well as for those of the other Ahmadis. There were too many other Rabwah boys of my age who were known victims, he wrote. He knows of one case of a boy who lived down the street from him. Being a known victim, he was far more attractive a target for sexual predators, he said. There was always a line-up of older boys from the neighborhood wanting to take him out to a coffee shop or a restaurant, he wrote.
“Instead of taking any action against the abusers, the Jamaat high-ups forced the family of the victim to vacate the residential quarters of Tehrik-e-Jadid, an auxiliary organization of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, as a punishment of ‘spreading vice,’” according to Dr Upal.
He said another two boys of his age, who are now living in the US, have told him that they were also sexually molested during those days in Rabwa. He said he is expecting more people to come out with their stories and put faces to the offenders and whose who support abuse.
Dr Upal’s column has drawn huge attention on social media. Some Ahmadis have criticized him for discussing sexual abuse openly and others have appreciated the decision. “I’m glad more people are speaking up about the abhorrent abuse that goes unchallenged for fear of dishonor, disgrace, and shame. The shame should always be on the abuser and our cultures need to change accordingly,” said Umbar Shakir on Twitter.
Creating the hashtag #AhmadiMeToo on Twitter, Upal said, “There are no Ahmadi teachings supporting abuse. Indeed, there are teachings against abusing others. The purpose of hashtags such as #AhmadiMeToo is not to suggest that abuse is any more prevalent in Jamaat.”
Many Ahmadis dismissed Nida’s accusations as baseless on social media. However, Dr Upal’s decision to talk about cases has since led to a significant decline in criticism of Nida.
The writer is based in Canada. He can be reached @RanaTanver