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Pakistan: Legal victimization of Ahmadis


“It is not the mindset of people. This structure provides a playground to the mullahs to use their tool of religion to grab control and power.” [Hina Jilani]

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: The News Int’l | Sunday Magazine
By Waqar Gillani | May 20, 2012

The recent row over Darul Zikr is another grim reminder of the intolerance towards minorities

Rana Muhammad Tufail Raza, a Lahore-based cleric, on April 28, through his counsel Badar Aalam Sheikh advocate, moved a complaint against some members of the Ahmadiyya community in the Misri Shah Police Station in Lahore. He had asked the police to have the Quranic verses removed and the dome demolished from their worship place “Darul Zikr” in Chamra Mandi, as these features make it “look like a mosque”. He also urged the police to lodge a blasphemy case against the community’s local leaders, which the police declined as the community, peacefully, agreed to remove those verses from the front door of their worship place. The pressure of the majority community led to the removal of Quranic verses from the walls of the worship place.

Meanwhile, a few days after the removal of the verses from Ahmadiyya worship place, advocate Sheikh filed another application in Garhi Shahu police station, a different area of the city, asking the police to demolish the minaret of the decades-old main worship place of Ahmadiyya community in Lahore. The place was also attacked by the Taliban in May 2010, spraying bullets and throwing hand grenades on the community gathering during the Friday prayers, killing at least 90 people.

The issue started in the last week of April when cleric Rana Muhammad Tufail Raza, 64, and a resident of Ravi Road was, reportedly, stopped from offering prayers in Darul Zikr in Sultanpura locality of Lahore.

“When I entered the place considering it a mosque, I was stopped and told that this is an Ahmadiyya mosque,” the complaint reads. “I, along with Badar Alam Sheikh (advocate) and another friend, went for ‘some piece of work’ in Chamra Mandi. Meanwhile there was call for prayers and we went to a nearby place, which looked like a mosque. When I went there I came to know that it was Ahmadiyya worship place. As Ahmadis were posing like Muslims and calling their worship place a mosque which is against the spirit of the anti-Ahmadi Ordinance and law of our land so [we thought] the blasphemy case must be registered against the local Ahmadis,” the cleric says while telling about his complaint.

And that’s how the case was taken forward.

“We got scared when we got a call from the local police who told us about this complaint. We asked the police to do what the law says,” says a local leader of the community. “It was strange for us that the complaint was filed by an outsider when there was no objection from the local communities. We have been living with other communities very peacefully for the past many decades. We are even sharing a wall of our worship place with a Shii’te Imambargah. We take care of each other.”

The targeted Ahmadi worship place in Chamra Mandi, Sultanpura, was established in the early 1950s. The Ahmadi leader believes the hate campaign against Ahmadis is quite common all over for the past many years. “This is our legal victimization.”

“In principle, every state guarantees constitutional rights and equality to all citizens without any religious discrimination,” says Hina Jilani, a Lahore-based lawyer and human rights activist. “But the problem with Pakistan is that promoting just one way of life, according to one religion – Islam – has marginalised the minorities and this contradictory value of the constitution has confused its minorities.”

Sultanpura is a lower middle class locality in a thickly populated part of Lahore and comprises a good number of Ahmadis. “We have been living here peacefully for many years and there has been no controversy,” says Manzoor Hussain, a local resident.

Interestingly, the Chamra Mandi incident occurred some days after anti-Ahmadi protests and public processions held in and around the locality in the past couple of weeks where Muslim clerics delivered hate speeches. Another anti-Ahmadi public meeting was also called after this incident. According to some locals, a Sunni Ulema federation, in its May 5 procession, also distributed membership forms among the youth urging them to stop and expose the Ahmadi activities.

Shockingly, applicant lawyer Badar Alam Sheikh says that the preaching activities of the community have already caused the 2010 attack on them at this place but they are still continuing with their mission and have not learnt a lesson. That is why, he says, they had asked the police to demolish the minaret of the place “according to the law”.

According to the Ahmadiyya community’s annual report, the number of Ahmadis booked for displaying Kalma has gone up to 764 since 1986, the promulgation of anti-Ahmadi laws during Ziaul Haq regime. Scores have been accused of calling [people] for prayer, posing as Muslims and using Islamic epithets.

“We believe that every religion talks about humanity and peace,” says Sajjad Hussain, a local resident of the adjacent Imambargah. “We should promote peace and not hatred.”

Jilani maintains that the problem would remain until there is a change in the basic structure of the state. “It is not the mindset of people. This structure provides a playground to the mullahs to use their tool of religion to grab control and power.”

She recalls how Parsis have left Karachi, Hindus have left Sindh, while Ahmadis and Christians are also leaving the country slowly. “Apart from dictatorship, violence and intolerance, one reason why Pakistan has a bad image abroad is because of our treatment of minorities.”

vaqargillani@gmail.com

Read original post here: Pakistan: Legal victimisation of Ahmadis

This content-post is archived for backup and to keep archived records of any news Islam Ahmadiyya. The views expressed by the author and source of this news archive do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Ahmadiyya Times.

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