Freedom of religion and worship
Violation of Freedom of Religion
Bhera, District Sargodha; February 2014: The mullas and the authorities imposed here unlawful restrictions on Ahmadis that were in violation of their freedom of religion.
Bhera is a historical town for Ahmadis as the first successor of their founder hailed from there, and his residence and mosque are still there. These buildings have grown old and Ahmadis proceeded to repair and update them. But the mullas intervened and agitated the issue maliciously and approached the authorities.
The police, responding to the protest, appointed a four-member committee to look into the case and propose a solution. Three of the four members of this committee comprised: 1. the Imam of the Jame Masjid 2. The Amir Jamaat Islami 3. A mulla of the Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat.
The Committee, despite its unfair composition, could find no fair reason to object to the planned repair and renovation, and made recommendations accordingly.
However, a few mullas from district Sargodha who belonged to a Khatme Nabuwwat organisation came over and strongly protested against the intended repairs. They demanded that minarets be demolished, the niche be closed, the repairs stopped and Ahmadis supervising the repairs be taken to task. This heightened the tension in the town.
In view of this extremist reaction, the Committee revised its recommendations, and proposed:
- The internal niche should be closed down.
- The high-rising wall should be restricted to only 5 feet height, etc.
Although these restrictions were unjustified and obstructive to Ahmadis’ right to build their place of worship to meet their religious and security requirements, these were approved and implemented by the authorities who, rather than upholding the national law and constitutional rights of Ahmadis, upheld mullas’ insistence on religious prejudice and bigotry.
Lahore police act in support of mullas to deny freedom of religion to Ahmadis
October 2014: Numerous reports were received from Lahore regarding obstacles faced by Ahmadis in offering ritual sacrifices at the festival of Eidul Azha. Some of these are reported below:
- On October 4, 2014, two Ahmadis, namely Mr. Mubashar Ahmad and Mr. Rafiq Ahmad of Taj Pura, Lahore were called by the police. The police told them that the people living in the neighbourhood had lodged a complaint with the police against their intention to sacrifice animals on the occasion of Eidul Azha; this could not be permitted. Both Ahmadis later called on the SHO who told them that the complainants were miscreants so the Ahmadis should undertake sacrifice elsewhere to avoid their mischief. Accordingly, Mr. Mubashar Ahmad had to shift the venue of sacrifice to his sister’s house.
It was later discovered that the incident was triggered by a neighbour with the help of local mullas.
- On October 6, 2014 at about 3 a.m. a few mullas and policemen knocked at the door of Malik Muhammad Akram, an Ahmadi resident of Sabzazar, Lahore. When he came out of his house, the visitors told him: “As you are a Qadiani, you have no right to offer ritual sacrifice. If you still do that it would disturb the peace.” At this, Mr. Akram told them that the lamb did not belong to him; it belonged to his tenant. The tenant was then made to hand over a written note to the mullas stating: ‘This lamb belongs to me and it is me who is going to do the sacrifice.’ The policemen still told him to take the animal to some other place for sacrifice. The tenant then sent the lamb to one of his employee’s house and undertook the sacrifice there on the day after the Eid.
- In a similar incident, someone knocked at the door of Mr. Abdur Rashid Qureshi of 131-A Block, Sabzazar, Lahore, after 3 a.m. When Mr. Qureshi asked as to who was at the door, the men outside said that they were policemen and that Abdur Rashid Qureshi should come out and have a word with them. When he opened the door, the policemen told him: ‘You are a Qadiani, so you cannot do the sacrifice.’ The police know that there is no such law and the Constitution upholds every Pakistani’s right to practice his religion. Despite this they indulge in extra-legal and even illegal activities, in league with mullas, to deny Ahmadis practice of their faith. Later the police searched Ahmadi’s house. Mr. Qureshi had to go to Samanabad, Lahore to perform the ritual.
- Rashid Ahmad, a resident of Bhaati Gate, Ravi Park bought a camel three days before Eid for sacrifice, and tethered it outside in front of his house. A day before Eid three mullas came to see him at his place and said: ‘You are not allowed to do sacrifice because your faith is different from ours. If you want to do the sacrifice, you should first come to our mosque and publicly announce that you have firm faith in end of Prophethood and that you have no link with the Qadiani denomination whatsoever.’ Having said this, the mullas left. Mr. Rashid sent the camel to a friend’s house where he performed the sacrifice on the second day of the Eid.
Gulshane Ravi case
On April 28, 2013 mullas raided the Ahmadiyya centre of worship in Gulshan-e-Ravi, Lahore. The police joined them promptly and searched the centre for an hour and a half. They also detained nine Ahmadis including the local president, the local prayer-leader, his wife and their twelve-year old son, and took them to the police station. The prayer-leader and his family were released the next morning while 8 others were booked under PPC 295-B and ATA 11-W (an anti-terrorism clause).
Six weeks later, the detained accuseds were released on bail. The trial, however, continued in the Anti-Terrorism Court.
Later on, the dreadful PPC 295-C was added to the summons.
On April 26 all the accused were acquitted of the baseless charges.
Thanks to the trial judge for being just, but what about the administration and the police of Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, for their full support to extremist mullas! Can one quantify the stress and strain suffered by the nine detainees who were led to the police station? The lady and the twelve year old boy could have received permanent psychological damage on exposure to tyranny. The eight accused underwent the stress of criminal prosecution for almost a year. Imagine the impact on the accused when their summons included the dreadful clause PPC 295-C that calls for ‘death’ penalty. This clause was added at the demand of the prosecutor who was an appointee of the Punjab.
Naseerabad:A complaint was lodged against Mr. Waris Ali, an Ahmadi by local mullas that he sends his children to a Muslim`s house to learn the recitation of the Holy Quran; being a non-Muslim he had no right to do that, they said. Waris Ali is making a prayer area next to his house, he has no right to make it, they alleged. (The building in fact is a house under construction for Mr. Muhammad Yusuf, a brother of Mr. Waris Ali.) Waris Ali had written the ‘Kalima’ on his house, which he had no right, asserted the ‘complainants’. On request of these bigots, an investigating police team came and told Waris Ali to present himself at the police station on June 6. As the complaints were not justified, status quo prevailed.
Ahmadis denied use of Islamic terms
Sheikhupura; April 01, 2014: An anti-Ahmadiyya campaign went on in the city in which police, in response to applications of anti-Ahmadiyya elements, erased Arabic phrases from Ahmadis’ shops. A banned religious outfit was its prime-mover. An Ahmadiyya delegation met the authorities and conveyed them the gravity of the issue and told them that Ahmadis respect the Arabic (Islamic) words and protest against erasing them. The Superintendent of Police seemed to agree and told Ahmadis that they would not allow this any more.
Two days later the police again erased the words “MashAllah” from the signboard of an Ahmadi Sheikh Bilal’s shop.
Freedom to practice faith seriously undermined
Lahore: October 2013: Ahmadis practice the riteof sacrificing animals at the festival of Eidul Adha. Non-Ahmadi Muslims do the same. As extremist elements are always on the look-out for mischief, they attempted denial of this rite to Ahmadis by asserting that it is exclusive to ‘Muslims’. Below we report three incidents from Lahore where the mullas sought police support to enforce this unlawful restriction.
- Marghzar Colony: The police arrived at the residence of Mr. Abdul Wasey, Ahmadi at about 11:30 p.m. on 15 October. They were accompanied by three mullas riding their ownmotor-bikes. The mullas pointed to the goats there and insisted that Ahmadis being ‘non-Muslims’ are forbidden to slaughter them. The police found it convenient to offer them to keep the goats with them for the next three days and return them thereafter. The mullas did not accept the offer.
Thereafter, the police took Mr. Wasey to the police station. It was past midnight. The mullas also went there. An Ahmadi delegation also arrived. It was finally decided by the police that Mr. Wasey will not sacrifice the animals at his residence. They told him to sign an undertaking on a plain paper. Thereafter they drove him back to his home. It was 1:00 a.m.
The next day, the police visited Mr. Wasey again at his home and inquired if the mullas had shown up again. Later, some decent police officer telephoned Mr. Wasey and told him, “Go ahead with your rite; we’ll protect you”.
- Sant Nagar: Imtiaz Ahmad Khan, Ahmadi was told to report to the police station on October 14. A call to the police station in Pakistan is always ominous for a citizen. There he was told that a mulla Hasan Muawiya (aka Tooti) had represented against Khan’s intention to sacrifice a bull. Mr. Khan told them that no sacrifice will be undertaken in the street, it will be done privately inside the house. Later the SHO sent a message that Mr. Khan should come at night to meet him. AccordinglyMr. Khan and the local Ahmadi community president went there, but the SHO was not available.
The next morning the SHO visited Khan’s residence and was annoyed to see the bull tied up in the street. The bull was moved inside and the SHO was told that Ahmadis had received instructions from their community elders to abstain from sacrificial rites in public and to be discreet about them. Later Mr. Khan took the bull to a relative’s home where it was sacrificed.
Similarly the SHO visited Mr. Mahmud Ahmad at his home and forbade him to undertake sacrificial rite. Mr. Ahmad told him that the goats were inside and will be slaughtered in private. At this the SHO left.
- Allama Iqbal Town: Tahir Masood, Ahmadi purchased a goat for sacrifice and tied it up on the first floor. On October 15, at about 11 p.m. eight mullas of the Khatme Nabuwwat faction arrived in company of the police. The clerics told the doctor that they will not let him undertake the sacrificial rite. The doctor offered not to sacrifice at the site; however, the police and the mullas did not concede and took away the animal to the police station.
The next day when the local sympathisers came to know of this incident they felt very angry. They went to the police station where they met the police clerk and told him to convey to the SHO of their visit, anger and the possible follow-up action.
An hour later Dr. Masood was told on phone by the police to come and take away his goat. The doctor’s non-Ahmadi neighbor offered to extend all co-operation. He slaughtered the animal at his home and sent the meat etc to the doctor. It seems there is decency still around – despite the mulla.