“It’s not that we’ve received any outright threats against our community here,” said Sajeel Ghouri, representative of the Ahmadiyya Nepal Sangh. “It’s just that we don’t know what they may do if they find out we’re Ahmadis.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, an Indian religious leader, in 1889. The Ahmadis believe him to be the promised messiah, or messenger, a belief that puts them at odds with other mainstream Muslims, and has resulted in their persecution in several countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In Nepal too, the community whose history can be traced to the mid-1990s, has faced some backlash. Older members recounted to the Post how they were subject to harassment at the hands of their neighbours who deemed them ‘infidels’. But they are also quick to point out that these incidents are a thing of the past and they no longer have issues with any other community.  

“People initially thought that Ahmadis were removing Muslims from Islam,” said Qamrul Huda Ansari, a Birgunj resident, who said that he had to relocate to a different village due to mistreatment by other villagers. “But I think these misconceptions have now been cleared and we no longer face the type of harassment that we did earlier.”