The Baltimore City Council passed a resolution last night condemning Pakistan for "the systematic repression" of the Ahmadis, a minority Muslim sect teaching that Jesus "was a holy prophet who survived the cross and preached in India after his resurrection."
A spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington denied the repression but said such a belief in Christ would not be possible for a true Muslim. Pakistan is a Muslim country.
The resolution was introduced by council President Mary Pat Clarke at the request of a group of Ahmadiyya Muslims in Balti- more.
Mubasher Ahmad, a native of Pakistan who is director of the center of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam on Garrison Boulevard, said the group has 10 million adherents worldwide. Many of the 8,000 Pakistan natives living in the Baltimore area are Ahmadis, he said.
The resolution -- adopted by the council without dissent -- says that, "since 1974, the Pakistan government has passed laws declaring the Ahmadis to be 'not Muslims for the sake of law and the constitution,' denying them the right to hold positions of authority in government and violating the internationally recognized rights of religious freedom and freedom of expression."
According to the resolution, thousands of Ahmadis in Pakistan have been imprisoned for practicing their faith, but Malik Zahoor Ahmad, press attache at the embassy, said that when Ahmadis are put in prison it is for such crimes as rape and robbery, not because they are followers of the Ahmadiyya faith.
He acknowledged that "Ahmadis are declared a minority by Parliament because they do not believe as the majority of Muslims do," but he criticized the council's action, saying, "This resolution is not based on any proper investigation of the facts."
Mubasher Ahmad, the Ahmadiyya spokesman in Baltimore, said his branch of Islam differs with many Muslim fundamentalists on the meaning of the term jihad. It is not properly a call to holy war, he said, but "primarily a call to spread [Muslim] beliefs through peaceful and affirmative means, to endeavor for self-purification and to defend themselves against aggression."
He said the Ahmadis "are focused and studious people who have prospered in their undertakings and, as a consequence, incurred the wrath of Islamic extremists."
Copies of the council resolution were being mailed to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Maryland's U.S. senators, members of Congress and the Pakistani ambassador to the United States.