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Officials at Quaid-i-Azam University had to cancel plans for Salam to lecture about his Nobel-winning theory when Islamist student activists threatened to break the physicist’s legs, said his colleague Hoodbhoy.

“The way he has been treated is such a tragedy,” said Hoodbhoy. “He went from someone who was revered in Pakistan, a national celebrity, to someone who could not set foot in Pakistan. If he came, he would be insulted and could be hurt or even killed.”

The president who honored Salam would later go on to intensify persecution of Ahmadis.

Salam was targeted even after his death. His body was returned to Pakistan in 1996 after he died in Oxford, England, and was buried under a gravestone that read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate,” but a local magistrate ordered the word “Muslim” to be erased, said Hoodbhoy.

Since Salam’s death, life has become even more precarious for Ahmadis in Pakistan. Taliban militants attacked two mosques packed with Ahmadis in Lahore in 2010, killing at least 80 people.

“Many Ahmadis have received letters from fundamentalists since the 2010 attacks threatening to target them again, and the government isn’t doing anything,” said Qamar Suleiman, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community.