President of Oxford University Pakistan Society, Haroon Zaman, MUST Resign Immediately
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***We should like to stress that there is no personal animosity towards Mr. Zaman from any single signatory to this letter. In fact, most of the signatories to this letter do not know Mr Zaman in a personal capacity. Our concerns purely and only relate to his role as President of this society and his failure to fulfil his duties as President in an appropriate manner. Any other such interpretation of events which attempts to provide a personal angle to this matter is entirely untruthful and misleading.
We condemn any offensive or defamatory language used towards Mr Zaman in the comments section of the petition and we would like to remind petitioners that our concerns relate to Mr Zaman as President of Oxford University Pakistan Society and not any personal capacity whatsoever***
On May 12 2018, a group of Oxford University Students and Alumni came together to host the very first UK screening of "Salam – The First ****** Nobel Laureate" – a documentary on the life of the first Pakistani Muslim Nobel Laureate Professor Dr. Abdus Salam. Dr. Salam is an internationally renowned physicist who belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, an Islamic sect subjected to extreme persecution in Pakistan for their interpretation of Islam.
Being a highly esteemed figure of great eminence in Pakistani history, the screening's main organiser, Noman Chaudhry (President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association at Oxford University), reached out to the President of the Oxford University Pakistan Society (OUPakSoc), Haroon Zaman, to engage him in co-hosting what would naturally be a high profile event for the OUPakSoc to participate in and support and to which the previous OUPakSoc committee had agreed to.
Unfortunately, following inexplicably long silences in spite of repeated attempts at outreach, the screening organizers were informed that the Oxford University Pakistan Society (OUPakSoc) did not want to cohost the event and did not want to be affiliated with the event or promotional material in any manner whatsoever. When pressed for a reason, the organizer's messages were entirely ignored for a long period before being informed that the decision not to co-host the event was taken to avoid “controversy." Ahmadi Muslims are so stigmatized and marginalized in Pakistani society that to associate with them in any way is considered taboo, and/or 'risky.' We believe that if Dr Abdus Salam was not an Ahmadi Muslim, the OUPakSoc would not have shown the organizers the cold shoulder that they did.
We expressed our grievances to the OUPakSoc four days ago. Since then, we have had a series of talks with the committee in order to seek an honest public apology for the utter disregard shown, and in order to ensure that the committee held no religious prejudice and hate for the Ahmadi Muslims, secure a public commitment to holding an educational event (e.g. panel discussion) on the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.
Unfortunately, these last four days have proved to be frustrating and disappointing, with the committee promising repeatedly to issue the aforementioned, but failing to deliver on their promise. On Wednesday we received a notice from the committee that they would commit to a joint public statement that would include an appropriate apology and a commitment to an event during the Committee's tenure on the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. It is now over 24 hours later and they have failed to produce a signed statement by the President of OUPakSoc. We are concerned that this is because the statement contains references to the Committee acknowledging equal rights for Pakistan's Ahmadi Muslims. We are deeply concerned that this religious prejudice might be the underlying reason the President has failed to sign the joint statement.
As a result of the events of the past few days, we have lost faith in Mr. Haroon Zaman's ability to lead as the President of OUPakSoc. He has failed to take our concerns (and concerns of numerous civil rights and human rights activists as well as other student bodies) seriously and has adopted a stubborn posture in the face of genuine criticism. We are concerned about the impact his leadership will have on instances of discrimination towards Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim students at Oxford in the future. His apathy and disregard for the cause of equal rights, diversity and pluralism is disturbing at the very least.
It is with great regret therefore that we now press on to call for his resignation.
Please sign this petition to show solidarity with the Ahmadi Muslim community and to make it clear that prejudice and discrimination against any minority group is intolerable, especially at a place like Oxford.
We consider this to be a matter of public interest, hence why we release this information into the public domain
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