Ahmadis denied the right of assembly
Chichawatni; May 16, 2010: The daily Nawa-i-Waqt of May 16, 2010 published a story regarding a conference planned by the Ahmadis of Chak 11-6L. The newspaper called it a meeting for preaching and apostatizing. The Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat and Majlis Ahrar-e-Islam took notice of the conference and told the police about the gravity of the situation.
The police did what the mullas wanted, and forbade Ahmadis from peaceful assembly.
In April, one month earlier Majlis Ahrar Islam held a conference in the name of safeguarding the End of Prophethood, in Chichawatni and invited those to speak there who are otherwise ‘banned’ for their terrorist and sectarian activities. A prominent speaker was mulla Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianwi, who is the leader of the banned SSP that later became the Jamaat Da‘wa; he now heads the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat. Most of the other ulama who spoke in the conference are routinely placed on the list of clerics forbidden to enter various districts at the occasion of Muharram. However, in the fair name of Khatme Nabuwwat, these clerics vented their rage and hatred freely against Ahmadis. It is not too far-fetched to assume that amongst these there are those who plan, hire and handle murderers who kill Ahmadis for their faith.
The same authorities allowed the extremely provocative conference of mullas in Chichawatni during April, but stopped Ahmadis to hold a peaceful community meeting in May 2010. Where is the ‘equal treatment’ claimed for the minorities by state functionaries at international forums?
Ahmadis denied their Jalsa Salana (annual conference)
Rabwah: This year again, for the 25th year running the government of Pakistan has not allowed Ahmadis to hold their Jalsa Salana at Rabwah. General Zia was the first to deny this basic right in 1984. Since his death in a plane crash numerous democratic governments (Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif) and the military regime of General Musharraf (of the so-called enlightened moderation) prevailed in Islamabad, but none of them returned to Ahmadis what was their due. At the time of the instant denial, Mr. Zardari of PPP is the president of the federation, while Mian Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister in the Punjab.
The first Jalsa Salana was held in Qadian in 1891, in the days of the holy founder of Ahmadiyyat. He stated one of the objects of the Jalsa as: “In this conference such verities and knowledge will be disseminated that are essential for promotion of faith, certainty and truth. The participants will receive special blessings and prayers, and all possible efforts will be made in making a plea to the Gracious and Merciful Lord that He bless them with His nearness and acceptance and bring about a holy transformation in them”.
This Jalsa has been held almost regularly ever since then, first in Qadian and then in Rabwah. However, since 1984, the authorities in Pakistan have put a ban on it. Although hundreds of thousands attended this conference in Rabwah, it was always peaceful, and it promoted peace. It is regrettable that while various governments disallowed this spiritual and decent community gathering, they permitted annual conferences of Lashkar-e-Taiba (now banned) and other militant religious and political organizations. Recently, in November, Dawat-i-Islami was allowed and facilitated to hold their three-day congregation at Multan where reportedly one million assembled. It was a stark discrimination by the government of Punjab to withhold similar permission to the Ahmadiyya Community.
Karen Armstrong, a renowned scholar from the West on Islam had some sympathetic words of wisdom for the Pakistani state and the mulla in her interview with The News of February 3, 2008:
“Politics coupled with egotism and sectarian attitude is the evil genius that creates divisions among religions of the world. It is the task of any ideology – be it religious, liberal or secular – to create global understanding and respect. Islam has a very strong pluralistic element in its scriptures. Most of the world religions stress the importance of compassion, not just for your own people, but for every body. And that is the voice we need today, because any idealism that breeds discord, disdain, or contempt is failing the test of our times.”
Freedom of Religion and Assembly denied to Ahmadis
Rabwah: Ahmadis of Pakistan were denied permission, again this year, to hold their traditional annual conference at Rabwah, by the government whose declared policy is that of ‘enlightened moderation’. We present a brief on this important issue.
Ahmadiyya annual conference was instituted more than a century ago by the holy founder of the community. Its main objective was stated as: “for all friends to assemble here on this date to listen to divine words, and join in prayers.” The first such conference was held at Qadian in the province of the Punjab, British India in 1891. Since then this conference had been held regularly every year, except for one or two years when an account of force majeure it was postponed from its traditional dates in December to another month (for example due to extensive riots and the resulting exodus in the year of the Partition of the Sub-continent). However, the conference was held, nevertheless. After the Partition, the conference at Rabwah was international in character, as the Khalifatul Masih (the Caliph) resided here. This practice continued till 1984, when General Zia, who used Islam to perpetuate himself as President, struck hard to harm the Ahmadiyya community, not only in Pakistan but all over the world. His vicious plan was all-encompassing and worldwide. In his message to a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference at London in 1985, he disclosed his design as: “We will Insha Allah, persevere in our effort to ensure that the cancer of Qadianism is exterminated”. The text can be seen here. In addition to various other steps that he took to exterminate this ‘cancer’, one was to disallow holding of this annual conference at Rabwah.
Zia took a number of steps against Ahmadis in gross violation of fundamental rights and international norms enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights . His evil legacy did not come to end with his death in a plane crash. Subsequent regimes found it politically convenient to maintain the obscurantist policy. Ahmadiyya community requested permission every year to hold the Conference but it was never granted. Initially, for some years, authorities would send a refusal letter, now they do not bother even to reply. However, it seems that the administration does indulge in some paper work to justify their refusal. This year when the Ahmadiyya headquarters requested permission to hold this conference, the District authorities asked the local police to give their opinion. The local Sub Inspector, incharge of the Police Post at Rabwah sent in the following rather pretentious and presumptuous report:
Police station: Chenab Nagar District Jhang
In reply to: Letter No. 13305A/12-11- 07
Police Station Chenab Nagar 3685-SB/8-11-07
Subject: Application requesting holding the annual conference of Jamaat Ahmadiyya
It is submitted that the Director of Public Affairs Ahmadiyya Community Chenab Nagar Saleem-ud-din has put up a request on the above subject. Ahmadiyya Community is a minority community and as per the Ordinance it can hold no conference or procession in Pakistan nor can it openly proselytize. In these circumstances, permission for the conference cannot be granted, and it is recommended that no conference of any sort may be permitted.
Report submitted for appropriate orders.
Nasir Abbas SI/ic Police Post Chenab Nagar
S.H.O. PS. Chenab Nagar 24-11-07
The above letter is typical and exposes the attitude of the administration to the Ahmadiyya community. The writer sub-inspector is a petty official of the police department. If not much else, these officials are expert in assessing the wishes of their superiors. He is firmly of the opinion that the administration’s policy is to provide no relief to Ahmadis, so he chose to write his opinion and recommendation accordingly and firmly — even beyond the call of duty. Following is also noteworthy:
- The sub-inspector shows his ignorance by calling Mr Saleem-ud-din a director of Chenab Nagar Ahmadiyya Community. He ought to know that the gentleman is the Director Public Affairs of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya (central Ahmadiyya organization).
- This official should learn to be suitably polite and write the director as Mr. Saleem-ud-din, rather than merely Saleem-ud-din.
- He is wrong in writing that as per the Ordinance the Ahmadiyya community is not allowed to hold a conference. The Ordinance makes no such mention. The imagined restriction is a creation of his own mind, or an impression gained from experience rather than the wording of the law.
- His unnecessary reference to Ahmadiyya Community as a ‘minority’ betrays his assumption that ‘minorities’ may be treated quite unlike the privileged majority.
- He is swept away by his inappropriate ego to finally recommend that ‘no conference of any sort may be permitted’.
However, in all fairness to the sub-inspector, he should not be blamed for his unbecoming official conduct; he is the routine product of the system of governance developed by the Pakistani establishment.
Anti-Ahmadiyya agitation in District Badin, Sindh
Ahmadi women harassed and harried for hours
Badin: Ahmadi women of Badin had arranged a religious cum community occasion in their mosque on April 29, 2007. Approximately 80 women and 10 girls participated. While they were busy in the afternoon in their peaceful program, two strangers, looking like mullahs, undertook surveillance of the location from the exterior. Sensing trouble, the congregation got concerned. Soon, a group of mullahs assembled outside the mosque and started a noisy agitation. The women hurriedly terminated their proceedings, bolted their doors and windows from inside and prayed to God for security against the mischief of clerics.
Mullahs expressed the concern that non-Ahmadis had been invited to participate in the program. As the agitators’ number swelled, the police and administration senior officials arrived at the location to defuse the crisis created by the mullah. Mullahs insisted that they would themselves go inside and see for themselves. Ahmadis refused to allow this trespass. Eventually, a representative group was formed, including two lady-councilors to go inside and inquire. The councilors reported that no non-Ahmadi was present among the congregation. Even then, mullahs refused to relent. At this, the Superintendent of Police talked himself with the leading mullah and ‘persuaded’ him to stop his agitation. The mullah returned to the crowd and declared that the administration had agreed to his demands. He thanked the agitators for ‘upholding Islam’, and told them to go home.
For these five hours Ahmadi women were locked inside the residential apartment on the first floor of the mosque. They undertook prayers, recitations and prostrations to Allah to save them from mischief of the religious goons. It was late at 22:30 when all was clear and they could return home. Ahmadi men arranged suitable transport and provided escort for their safe return. The task went on till midnight.
Three days later, the Khatme Nabuwwat mullah at Golarchi, Maulvi Ashiq, fabricated a story to implicate a number of Ahmadis in a religious criminal case. Knowing his untrustworthy nature, the police SHO resisted registration of an FIR. The clerics threatened agitation on Friday, the day of special Islamic prayers, but now used by the mullah for political agitation. However, the authorities managed to defuse the situation somehow.
Step-motherly treatment of Ahmadis
Rabwah: As usual, anti-Ahmadi organizations of Khatme Nabuwwat based at Lahore, Multan and Chiniot were allowed by the government to hold open-air conferences at Rabwah in April, first week of September and the 4th week of September 2006. The participants were transported from other towns and madrassahs. They disturbed the peace of this town, and citizens as well as authorities had to be on guard against their mischief.
On the other hand, when Ahmadis ask permission to hold their traditional annual conference in their own town, the government decides not to send a reply or even acknowledge. The following letter was sent to them (translation from Urdu original):
Respected Nazim, District Jhang
Subject: Application to hold the Annual Conference of Jamaat Ahmadiyya
It is submitted that the Annual Ahmadiyya Conference is scheduled to be held at Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on 21-23 December, 2006. Three to four hundred thousand participants are expected to attend. No political issues will be discussed at the conference. There will be speeches only on moral and community issues.
The conference site for men will be located next to the Biyutul Hamd Quarters, while the site for women will be the compound of the Bait ul Aqsa.
Kindly oblige by according permission to hold the Conference and also the use of loudspeakers (at the sites).
Note: The details of the Conference Program are enclosed
Sd/- Salimuddin Nazir Amur Aama Rabwah
Dated 6 November 2006
The Nazim did not respond. For years they have not responded to these annual requests. Ahmadiyya annual conference was initially not permitted by the dictator-president General Zia in 1984. The unjustified ‘ban’ has been maintained ever since. The general perished in an air-crash in 1988. He was succeeded by democratic governments of Ms. Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif for 11 years. They did not lift the ‘ban’ in deference to the mullah. General Musharraf of ‘enlightened moderation’ has been in power since 1999; he brought about no change either. Compare this with the conference of the Tableeghi Jamaat held at Raiwind in the second week of November 2006. According to a press report, the participants included three chief ministers, Pervaiz Ilahi, Arbab Rahim and Akram Durrani, also Governor Maqbool, Fazlur Rehman (MMA) and federal minister Ejazul Haq (the daily Jang, Lahore; November 13, 2006). “Is the freedom of faith and assembly allowed only to the majority and to the ministers and governors in Pakistan?” one may ask. No, as per Constitution of the republic. It was also reported that the authorities arranged 20 trains for the faithful to facilitate their participation. All trains passing through the Raiwind station were ordered to stop there during the days of the conference, although ordinarily these do not stop at Raiwind. So, one is reminded of two quotes from the press:
- All minorities enjoy complete religious freedom in the country. Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (The daily Awaz; September 24, 2005)
Muslim leaders should break the habit of all talk in lieu of action. Shaukat Aziz (The Prime Minister) (The daily Jang; October 2, 2005
Religious freedom, but not to Ahmadis in NWFP
Peshawar: Ahmadis were barred by the administration to hold a seminar here on the
subject of Excellence of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), on May 25, 2003.
Elaborate arrangements had been made by Ahmadis well in advance to hold a
seminar on the personal excellence of the Holy Prophet. The SHO and a police inspector
arrived at the site on May 24 afternoon and inquired if a conference was planned for the
next day. They were informed of the plan to hold the seminar that is a routine activity in Ahmadiyya religious environment.
The SHO visited again after the sunset and told six of the organizers to accompany him to the police station. The police were polite at their office, but firmly told Ahmadis to cancel their program. They advised Ahmadis to hold the function soon after some Friday prayers, and not call it Seerat-un-Nabi to avoid any reference to the Holy Prophet. “You know the government’s attitude; they keep a watch on you”, said one of the police officials.
Ahmadis had no option but to cancel the seminar.
Denial of Freedom of Religion
Ranipur (Sind): According to the daily Shaam of Hyderabad of January 14, 2001, the police refused to let Ahmadis hold a religious gathering near Ranipur. Translation of the newspaper report is reproduced below.
Ahmadiyya Assembly banned near Ranipur. Police Intervened.The Village Chief of Cheema was made to give in writing that the Assembly will not be held. Khara/Ranipur/Gambat. (Reporters). The District Administration interrupted this morning a religious assembly. The police was posted at the site of the gathering. Last night, a number of religious organizations like Khatme Nabuwwat, Sipah Sahaba and others took out a procession against today’s gathering, and they threatened obstruction of the highway at Ranipur. This morning, Maulana Gul Mohammad Marri, the Chief of JUI Gambit told the Shaam that a JUI delegation led by Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Punhaur, the district president, met the district administration, in particular Mr Ayub Qureshi the SSP, and told them about the situation arising from the assembly. The district administration assured the delegation that the assembly will not be allowed.
Mr. Wahid Bux Abbasi, the Tehsildar of Sobo Dhero told the Sham this morning that Chaudhry Mumtaz, the village chief has been constrained in writing accordingly, and the police has been posted all around the village.
It should be mentioned that except for Jamaat Ahmadiyya, all religious organizations have complete freedom to hold religious assemblies – even those that are more political than
Denial of Freedom of Assembly
Prior to 1984, Ahmadiyya Community held its annual religious conference every year at Rabwah. This annual conference was first held in early 20th century and had been held regularly since then with rare interruption, at the community headquarters. This conference was always a peaceful event and was never political in nature. It was banned in 1984 after promulgation of Ordinance XX by General Zia. It has remained banned ever since by the subsequent civil as well as military governments. This conference is one of the great traditional events in the Ahmadiyya Community; its forced ban is a great loss and deprivation for Ahmadis.
Apart from the above conference, various auxiliary organizations of the Community, comprised separately of elders, youth, women and children membership, used to hold their meet annually at Rabwah. The program included sports, moral and spiritual education and worship activities. These have remained banned ever since 1984. The law does not forbid them. All other communities, including political parties hold their assemblies all over Pakistan, but not Ahmadis. Why not – no body explains.
Prior to 1984, Rabwah used to host a number of sports events on All-Pakistan basis, in which non-Ahmadi teams also participated. These were banned and have remained so for the last 17 years. Reluctance of various governments to lift these ridiculous and discriminatory sanctions is amazing.
Freedom of speech and assembly denied to Ahmadis
While the Mulla was given a free license to hold as many conferences anywhere as he chose, Ahmadis were forbidden to hold any, where they could address their community members on moral and spiritual excellence.
Although Ahmadis say nothing to hurt anybody and keep well clear of politics, their assembly and meetings that are primarily meant for spiritual and moral education are not tolerated by authorities.
On 29 September, a seminar was held at a local mosque in Rabwah in which Ahmadi elders of the neighborhood, who are above the age of 40, participated. It was a two-hours program. At the time, three policemen arrived at the site, and conveyed that the seminar being held was without permission. They were told that an assembly in a mosque, where loudspeaker is not used, needs no permission. The police did not agree and insisted that the Resident Magistrate wanted the meeting to be discontinued. The police were asked to convey their instructions in writing, which they did not, and returned to get fresh orders. In the meantime the short session came to an end. The partiality of the government towards various sections in the country is amazing.
Ahmadiyya Community asked the government permission to hold their traditional annual conference at Rabwah, which has been denied to them for the last 15 years. It was hoped that the military government would find enough courage to allow it. However, authorities, for reasons best known to them, did not respond to the request. The Conference was postponed as in previous years.