The Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Organization held an on-campus blood drive Thursday that will continue Friday in response to persecution of Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.
The organization and a truck from the Blood Center of Central Texas will be located on Speedway, near Robert A. Welch Hall from noon to 5 p.m. The organization hopes to raise awareness for Shiite, Ahmadi and other persecuted religious minorities, said Usama Malik, president of the organization.
“With this blood drive, we’re going to save lives and promote the true message of Islam,” Malik said. “For students on campus, the objective is just to get them in the loop about it and to get them aware of what’s going on.”
There has been an increase in violence against minority Muslim groups in Pakistan in recent years, Malik said.
The Ahmadis are a minority group in a Sunni-majority Pakistan that make up less than 0.5 percent of the population, according to the U.S. State Department. Following a declaration against Ahmadis by the Pakistani government for alleged heresy in 1974, harrassment of Ahmadiyya and Shiite groups has spiked. In May 2010, 86 members of the Ahmadiyya community were killed in Lahore, Pakistan. There have been multiple subsequent incidents of violence directed at the religious group.
Members of the organization explained the purpose of the blood drive to students and handed out pamphlets against terrorism.
Pre-pharmacy sophomore Munaum Qureshi, an officer for the organization, scheduled appointments for students to donate blood.
“We’re a relatively small organization, so as long as we can get our message out, I’m happy,” Qureshi said.
Biology junior Neel Bhan picked up a pamphlet before heading into the truck to donate blood. He said the information he read was the first he heard about the persecutions in Pakistan.
“I think it’s always important to be involved in stuff around the world,” Bhan said. “Sometimes we kind of enclose ourselves in a little private world of classes and whatnot, but there’s real stuff going on outside our campus bubble.”
The overall goal for the blood drive is to raise awareness regarding ongoing religious persecution, Malik said.
“This blood drive is just kind of like a snapshot of a broader message to end persecution in general, whether it’s for Muslims, Christians or Jewish people. It has a wide spread message,” Malik said.