FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2019
USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore Calls on Pakistan to Release Prisoner of Conscience Abdul Shakoor
WASHINGTON, DC – Johnnie Moore, Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), today called on Pakistan to immediately release Abdul Shakoor, an imprisoned Ahmadiyya Muslim. Pakistani authorities arrested Shakoor in December 2015 for selling an Ahmadiyya commentary on the Qur’an. In January 2016, he was given an eight-year prison sentence. On February 26, 2016, seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to then Secretary of State John Kerry seeking his support for Abdul Shakoor and a jailed Ahmadiyya newspaper editor, Tahir Mehdi. Three years later, the Pakistan government has yet to ensure justice for Shakoor.
“This is the third year in an eight-year sentence for the 82-year-old Abdul Shakoor, an innocent bookseller in Pakistan. USCIRF again condemns the charges levied against Mr. Shakoor, as well as the state-sponsored, legalized discrimination against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community,” said Commissioner Johnnie Moore who advocates on behalf of Mr. Shakoor through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “I call on Pakistan to immediately release Mr. Shakoor and, in the spirit of Pakistan’s founders more than 60 years ago, respect religious freedom.”
USCIRF began advocating for Mr. Shakoor in 2017, when it launched its Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. Every year since 2002, USCIRF has recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for “ongoing, systematic, egregious” violations of religious freedom. In December 2018, the State Department designated Pakistan as a CPC.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-703-898-6554.