As the hate campaign against the Ahmadiyya community continues in Rawalpindi, police barred Ahmadis from entering their place of worship on Friday.
The decision was taken after locals, including businessmen and Ulema, threatened to organise a large protest outside the place of worship against what they called the community’s ‘unconstitutional activities’.
Leading the protests, businessman Sharjeel Mir told The Express Tribune that three days ago residents had decided that the place of worship would now be used as a residence.
Mir added that at a meeting, attended by DCO Saqib Zafar, SP Matloob Hussain, SSP Yasin Farooq, and prominent residents, it was conveyed that a demonstration outside the place of worship will be organised if their demand is not accepted.
A senior member of the community quoted police officials as saying that the decision had been made to prevent clashes among religious groups.
The police confined members of the community inside the worship place and barred people coming from outside. The Ahmadiyya community representative further said that prayers scheduled for Friday had been hindered.
DCO Saqib Zafar said the police had provided security to the threatened community. He refused to comment when asked about the residents’ demand to convert the place of worship into a residence.
He said he was busy working on an assignment given by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and had no time to discuss the matter.
A deadline of March 1 had been set by locals and traders for the fulfilment of their demand.
Last Friday, hundreds of residents gathered outside the worship place, demanding the removal of barricades and CCTV cameras installed outside the building.
Throughout this time, the Ahmadiyya community had emphasised that they are not involved in any unlawful activities and have pleaded that the hate campaign against them be stopped.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.