Evangelical Trump adviser Johnnie Moore is now personally advocating for the release of a persecuted elderly minority Muslim who’s been jailed for years in Pakistan for selling commentary about his religious beliefs.
As one of the newest members of the United States Commision on International Religious Freedom, Moore joined in on the commission’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project this week by “adopting” 81-year-old Ahmadiyya Muslim Abdul Shakoor as his religious prisoner of conscience.
Under the project, each USCIRF commissioner picks a religious prisoner of conscience to personally dedicate time to advocate for. For example, USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga has selected imprisoned pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. She has been at the forefront of USCIRF’s advocacy for him and has even met with Brunson in Turkish prison.
Moore, an adviser who has been at the heart of the conservative evangelical engagement with the Trump administration, made the announcement before a gathering of 37,000 Ahmadis at an annual convention for the Ahmadiyya community in the United Kingdom.
“I have a personal commitment to make sure that you are not forgotten,” Moore said. “USCIRF will continue to make it a priority to raise a voice for the Ahmadiyya community.”
Similar to Christians in the predominantly Sunni Islamic republic, Ahmadis face severe persecution as they are adherents to a minority sect of Islam that promotes peace and tolerance. USCIRF reports that Pakistan’s constitution declares Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and the penal code prevents Ahmadis from claiming that they are Muslims.
Ahmadis also must disavow their spiritual leader or claim they are not Muslims in order to vote in Pakistan, according to USCIRF.
As for Shakoor, he has been in prison since December 2015 and has been charged with inciting “religious hatred” and promoting the Ahmadiyya faith. According to USCIRF, he was sentenced to three years for violating Pakistan’s notoriously abused blasphemy laws and sentenced to five years under the anti-terrorism act of 2016.
Shakoor managed an optician’s store and bookshop in the Punjab province city of Rabwah, a town where Ahmadiyya comprise about 95 percent of the population. Shakoor’s shop was raided by government officials on Dec. 2, 2015. He and a Shia Muslim employee were arrested on grounds that they were selling books on the Ahmadiyya commentary of the Quran.
The prosecution claimed that Shakoor had violated a provincial law prohibiting the sale of Ahmadiyya publications. The prosecution is accused of planting a letter in the shop telling Shakoor that the Ahmadiyya publications were banned. However, advocates contend that the law banning the sale of the materials was not enacted until after Shakoor’s trial.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith