A recent protest against Ahmadis in Rawalpindi was an act of harassment and in clear violation of the constitutional rights of Pakistanis, said a press release issued by Insani Haqooq Ittehad (IHI).
Under Article 20 of the Constitution, every citizen has the freedom to profess, practice and propagate their religion, said the press release.
The network, which represents over 30 rights-based civil society organisations, urged all citizens to “unite in condemning this terrorising act in the strongest manner”.
“Our public response is the only way to curb these tendencies of religious vigilantism in our society,” the statement read.
The IHI also called upon the Chief Justice to take suo motu action against the parties that organised the rally.
On January 29, over 5,000 people from various religious parties including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamaat-e-Islami, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat gathered near a local hospital in Rawalpindi to protest against Ahmadis’ preaching and worshipping in the area.
The Ahmadis have built a building in Satellite Town and set up a place of worship. The protesters claimed Ahmadis have raised high walls around their building and installed security cameras, in addition to posting snipers at the rooftop. They said the building looks more like a fortress than a religious place, which creates problems for people.
On the other hand, Ahmadis say the building was built after Jamat-e-Ahmadia purchased the land. Being a registered organisation and under the relevant rules, they can continue worshipping in the building.
According to the members of the community, the barriers were erected following the attacks on their worship place in Lahore in 2010. In addition to that, some young men are also deputed to patrol every Friday, which is being done after getting permission from the district administration, a representative of the community said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.