Pakistan's top diplomat in UN deletes tweet on Muslim Oscar winner

Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for Actor in a Supporting Role for 'Moonlight,'. Pic/ AFP
Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for Actor in a Supporting Role for 'Moonlight'. Pic/ AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan's top diplomat in the UN Maleeha Lodhi today deleted a congratulatory tweet about Oscar winner Muslim actor Mahershala Ali after being criticised for promoting an Ahmadi, considered to be non-Muslims in Pakistan.

The 43-year-old actor won the Oscar for his portrayal of a drug dealer in coming-of-age drama "Moonlight", becoming the first Muslim actor ever to win the prestigious award.

Soon after her tweet, Lodhi came under fire for promoting an Ahmadi, who are considered non-Muslims in Pakistan. She later deleted her tweet as a response to the criticism.

Ali's birth name is Mahershalalhashbaz and he converted to Islam in 1999. In 2001, he joined the Ahmadiyya Community. Pakistan's parliament had declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, and they have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists, who view them as heretics. Article 260-3 of Pakistan's Constitution declares Ahmadis "non-Muslims".

In 1984, they were banned from calling themselves Muslim. They are banned from preaching and even from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. Several Ahmadi mosques were shut down at the time in Pakistan. Their publications are prohibited.

The minority Ahmadiyya Community members have also been taken to court on blasphemy charges. Pakistan's only Nobel laureate scientist Dr Abdus Salam, a major figure in the 20th century theoretical physics, was also an Ahmadi.

Ahmedis were prosecuted by the fundamentalists and contribution of eminent people like Dr Salam was ignored.

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