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Pakistan shuns physicist linked to 'God particle'

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Pakistan shuns physicist linked to 'God particle'

In this picture taken on May 29, 2010, people from a minority Muslim Ahmadi Community stand guard as others preparing to bury the victims of attack by Islamic militants, in Rabwa, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest from Lahore Pakistan. The first Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Professor Abdus Salam, the country’s greatest scientist, who passed away in 1996, has been disowned by many of Pakistan’s 190 million citizens because he was a member of a minority Muslim sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view Ahmadis as heretics. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's only Nobel laureate helped develop the theoretical framework that led to the apparent discovery of the subatomic "God particle" last week, yet his legacy has been largely scorned in his homeland because of his religious affiliation.

It's a sign of the growing Islamic extremism in his country.

Adbus Salam, who died in 1996, was once hailed as a national hero for his pioneering work in physics and work that guided the early stages of Pakistan's nuclear program. Now his name is even stricken from school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants, who view them as heretics.

Their plight — along with that of Pakistan's other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Christians and Hindus — has deepened in recent years as hard-line interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. The majority of Pakistan's citizens are Sunni Muslims.

Salam, a child prodigy born in 1926 in what was to become Pakistan after the partition of British-controlled India, won more than a dozen international prizes and honors. In 1979, he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, which theorizes how fundamental forces govern the overall dynamics of the universe.