A large number of local activists from different religious parties gathered near a local hospital to urge the government to stop what they called the ‘unconstitutional activities’ of Ahmedis in Rawalpindi.
Arranged by trading associations, the protest was attended by activists from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamat-e-Islami, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Ahl-e-Sunnat Jammat. The protest was headed by Sharjeel Mir and Shahid Gafoor Paracha. Over 5,000 people attended the rally.
Those who spoke at the gathering urged Ahmedis to stop their religious activities, which include preaching and worshipping in the area.
The participants, carrying flags of different religious parties – including banned outfits – and also portraits of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, chanted slogans against Ahmedis.
The protestors, in no uncertain terms, urged the city administration to stop the activities of the minority community. “The Ahmedis, a few years ago, purchased the building E-69 in Satellite Town and set up a place of worship besides carrying out preaching in residential areas, creating problems for their neighbours”, said Sharjeel Mir.
Mir added that they did not object to any community living in the area, but would not tolerate the place of worship in the locality. Ahmedis have erected barriers and posted private guards on the main road adjoining the hospital for their safety, Mir said.
The businessman said that Ahmedis had raised high walls around their building and installed security cameras, in addition to posting snipers at the rooftop. The building does not even look like a religious place, according to Mir, who says it is more like a fortress, creating problems for the neighbours.
On the other hand, Ahmedis say the building was built after Jamat-e-Ahmedia purchased the land, being a registered organisation, and under the relevant rules they could continue worshipping in the building.
Members of the community, asking not to be identified, said that, following attacks on their places of worship in Lahore, they erected movable barriers and deputed some young men to patrol every Friday after getting due permission from the district administration.
The community removed the security measures following the protests, he said. The superintendent of police of Rawal Town, Malik Matloob Ahmed, said that adequate security measures had been made for the protest rally.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.