6. Abdul Shakoor — Ahmadiyya Muslim (Pakistan)
One of the most recent religious freedom successes was the release of Ahmaddiya Muslim shop owner Abdul Shakoor in March after he was imprisoned for three years on blasphemy charges. A high court in Punjab had reduced his sentence for selling commentary on his religious beliefs.
In Pakistan, Ahmadis are considered apostates by the Sunni-majority nation because of their adherence to a peaceful sect of Islam. In Pakistan, Ahmadis are not recognized as followers of Islam.
“I used to sell eyewear but I didn’t have enough business in this new place so I started selling books for Ahmadis on the side. There was a publication ban [on Ahmadi material] and they arrested me and sentenced me to five years in prison,” he told reporters through a translator. “I served almost three-and-a-half years in solitary confinement in Pakistan. I have now been released and the rest of my sentence was commuted. I urge and implore that no one should interfere in people’s religion and faith should be between a person and his God.”
“What the world needs today is love for all and hatred for none,” Shakoor added.