Unending prosecution of Ahmadis
Hundreds of Ahmadis continue to face prosecution in courts for years on religious and Ahmadi-specific charges. It costs vastly in terms of time, effort and money. Consequently, these cases generate a great deal of stress for the accused and their families. Here we mention only two such cases, as sample.
The Kalima cases of Qasur: The Kalima (Islamic creed) is commonly shared by Ahmadis as well as non-Ahmadis. Under the constitutional guarantee of freedom of faith, Ahmadis exercise their right to own up their creed. But the mullah and authorities take him unnecessarily to the court to contest what is already granted by the law of the land. If Ahmadis do not actively defend their right in the court, they would end up in prison. The prosecution loses nothing in the game; it only wastes public money and time.
Messers Muhammad Aslam, Mushtaq Ahmad, Muhammad Islam and Qureshi Nur Ahmad, Ahmadis of Qasur were charged under the Ahmadi-specific PPC 298C for writing the Kalima and Quranic verses on their buildings 17 years ago on August 27, 1987. The charges were pressed by a mullah Fazal Hussain of Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat. Later, Ahmadi-bashers approached the magistrate and had the Blasphemy clause PPC 295C added to the charge sheet. This was challenged in the court of the Additional Session Judge Qasur, who rightly ordered the blasphemy charge to be dropped. Rest of the case however remained active in the court of the civil judge. In the subsequent years, Mr. Nur Ahmad died while still under prosecution. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad and Muhammad Islam fled the country fearing imprisonment; however Mr. Muhammad Aslam kept on defending himself. Thirteen years after the registration of the case, on October 11, 2000 the civil judge awarded the old man one year’s imprisonment and Rs. 5000 as fine. The accused had to apply for bail for the duration of appeal against the sentence; this was granted by the Sessions Judge. The case was then contested for the next four years in the Sessions Court where the judge gave his decision on October 19, 2004 that the case be sent back to the lower trial court for reconsideration. So, the trial goes on in its 18th year for the septuagenarian father of the President of the District Ahmadiyya Community.
A similar case was taken up by the Civil Judge, Qasur against Mr. Muhammad Hussain and his son Mr. Muhammad Sadiq, Ahmadis, on July 19, 1989. Both the accused had to run for cover and managed to arrange bail to avoid detention. Eleven years later, the court awarded one year’s imprisonment and Rs. 5000 fine to both father and son, on October 11, 2000. Both had to seek fresh bail for the duration of appeal against their conviction. Eventually Mr. Hussain died while still under appeal. Mr. Sadiq continued to appear before the court. After further four years of court appearances, Mr. Sadiq’s conviction and penalty was maintained by the Sessions Judge. As the police was not present at the court’s premises, Mr. Sadiq escaped arrest. He will now have to approach the High Court for bail. All this happened because he happens to believe in this Islamic country that ‘None is worthy of worship except Allah; Muhammad is His prophet’ and wrote it on his house.
Tension at Ghasitpura
Ghasitpura, 69/R.B; District Faisalabad: The Ahmadiyya community here faced the joint attack by the troika of mullahs, politicians and the administration. It suits all of them to set aside morality and higher values, and cooperate mutually to act against Ahmadis. What happened on March 5, 2004 shows how it works. A few local miscreants enjoy the support of mullah Faqir Muhammad (who was detained under the Goonda (Rascals) Act by a Commissioner, some years ago) of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization and Dr M Shafiq, a member of the Provincial Assembly. They arrived at about 5 p.m. escorted by a contingent of police and took away by force the amplifiers of the Ahmadiyya mosque. The incident disturbed the local Ahmadiyya community greatly.
Subsequently, Ahmadis arranged for some pressmen to come and visit the site of the incident and make inquiries for themselves to make a fair assessment.
Unrest at Kotri
Kotri has been simmering against Ahmadis for years. Occasionally the situation becomes very tense, and Ahmadis face great difficulties. There were intervals of relatives calm. Early in 2004 the opposition again became very active and very hostile.
Kotri is an industrial town. A number of Ahmadis have jobs in factories and most of them reside in the labour colony. The opposition knows this, and it planned to deprive Ahmadis of their jobs and livelihood. In this drive Ahmadi-bashers targeted 18 Ahmadis working at Farman Textile Mills. Last year, the factory changed hand and had a new owner. He appointed a Mullah Haqqani in the factory’s mosque. This mullah gave high priority to his anti-Ahmadiyya agenda. He prevailed upon the owner to fire all the Ahmadi employees on January 1, 2004. This was a big blow to the victims. The mullah declared his intentions to persist in his drive against Ahmadis working in other factories.
Mullah Haqqani, to implement his plan, invited other mullahs from other factories to a meeting at his residence on January 18, 2004. He urged them to liaise with such members of the management who attend their mosques, and persuade them to lay off Ahmadis working in their factories. He told them to assemble every week for a meeting and make progress report. He distributed anti-Ahmadiyya literature. A delegation met the Assistant Nazim of the local union council. It was a multi-pronged approach to the Ahmadiyya ‘problem’. Its strings were pulled by someone outside who provided the financial and management support. Ahmadis felt very concerned and targeted. They took some passive defensive steps, and have become more active in their prayers.
Mullahs’ mischief increased with the passage of time. They wrote to the SP (Superintendent of Police) that Ahmadis had plans to assemble in a Pipe Factory for a conference and Friday Prayers. The SP directed Ahmadis not to assemble there for the Eid service and the Friday prayers on February 6. Ahmadis complied. The SP invited the two parties to appear before him to state their case. Mullah Hamadi, a full-time employee on anti-Ahmadiyya assignment arrived with a gang of 10. He stated that Ahmadis had been declared non-Muslims, so they had no right to offer prayers and undertake their worship, as it hurts the feelings of Muslims. Ahmadis stated that whatever their religious status, they had the right to worship according to their faith. The mullah asserted that Friday was the holy day for Muslims; no Qadiani had any right to pray on that day. The SP was not convinced and stated that he would seek legal advice on the issue. He told the parties to come again on 18 February, till then Ahmadis would not assemble for the Friday prayers in the factory.
It was wrong of the SP to conveniently forbid Ahmadis to offer their obligatory Friday prayers. On that very day, February 18, the President of Pakistan was again exhorting his audience at Islamabad to ‘promote sectarian harmony, and weed out extremist elements from Pakistani society’. Obviously his message is not reaching the mullahs and the officials, or they are getting permissive signals in favor of discrimination against Ahmadis. No wonder, the whole message gets corrupted in the process and loses its effect. So long as the government’s policy incorporates exceptions to the rule and is selective in its implementation to the detriment of one particular community, it can never deliver the intended results. This is the lesson of the last 50 years, which people at the top fail to learn.
Severe tension and harassment at Chak Chattha
Chak Chattha, district Hafizabad: Chak Chattha has a sizeable Ahmadi population. Perhaps for this reason, it is a sore with anti-Ahmadi activists who keep the social temperature there close to the boiling point.
1. An FIR was registered with the police against two Ahmadis under a non-religious clause, but their opponents handled the incident on religious basis.
2. Fundamentalists attacked an Ahmadi Dr Shafiq ur Rehman at night and inflicted serious injuries. Dr Rahman was hit in the waist, legs and arms. He had a compound fracture and had to be shifted to Sheikh Zayed Hospital at Lahore.
In view of the religious tension and an apology tendered by the elders of the miscreants, the victim did not report the violence to the police. Non-Ahmadis promised that they will abstain from such acts in future.
3. Recently, on November 8, extremist hoodlums intercepted Mr. Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi, and beat him up. Mr. Salam was proceeding on a cycle to his duty at the time, at approximately 8 a.m.
The situation is a cause for concern to the entire local Ahmadiyya community, and they are afraid that it may not spiral out of control.