Islamabad: Ten students, including seven girls, and a woman teacher belonging to the minority Ahmadi sect have been expelled from two schools in Pakistan`s Punjab province amid a hate campaign against the community, a media report said on Saturday.
They were expelled from Chenab Public School and Muslim Public School at Dharanwali in Hafizabad.
A public meeting held recently in Dharanwali had spread hatred against Ahmadis, Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan spokesman Saleemuddin said.
The expulsions came in the aftermath of intolerance that some religious preachers were bent on evoking among local residents, Saleemuddin told `The Express Tribune` daily.
"They went so far as to say that they would never allow for an Ahmadi to be buried in their graveyard, let alone allow an Ahmadi to study in a school with their children," Saleemuddin alleged.
Soon after the hate speeches, 10 Ahmadi students and the teacher were expelled from the schools.
Khalil Ahmad, whose three daughters were among the expelled students, said: "It is extremely unfortunate that my daughters are being deprived of the most basic and fundamental human right such as education...all because of religious intolerance."
He said: "I have no alternative to ensure that their education continues."
He questioned why authorities were not implementing Constitutional provisions that ensure equal rights for all.
"I`ve never seen Christians and students belonging to other religions ever having to deal with such restrictions," he said.
Muslim Public School principal Yasir Abbas said he had "personally opposed the expulsion on the basis of faith”.
He said: "This is not my decision... the entire village unanimously pressed me to expel all Ahmadis from the school, or else they would forcibly shut the school down."
The Punjab government`s initiative allowing people to register for schools online makes it mandatory to disclose their religion, including whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim.
"This was never the case previously. It`s very simply a calculated move to subject the Ahmadiyya community to discrimination and deprive them of their right to education," Saleemuddin alleged.
Ahmadis do not refer to themselves as "non-Muslim”, but that does not stop them from being kept away from educational institutions.
For the first time ever, authorities have introduced a system whereby religion is displayed on roll number slips.
"It`s like they`re making a conscious effort to mentally torture us," Saleemuddin said.
Dozens of members of the Ahmadi sect have been killed in terror attacks in the past two years.