KARACHI: An application asking for an investigation into the imam of DHA’s Sultan Masjid has been submitted by complainants who accused the imam of declaring MNA Sherry Rehman a ‘non-Muslim’.
Sherry Rehman, who has submitted a private member bill in the National Assembly proposing amendments to the blasphemy law, has been at the receiving end of fiery criticism from several religious political parties in the country. Concerns over her security increased after Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was recently killed for his similar views on the blasphemy law.
Journalist Ali Kamran Chishti filed the application while other complainants listed are the late governor’s son, Shaan Taseer, and Sherry Rehman. The application was filed at the Darakshan police station on Sunday afternoon.
The application states that the police should file an FIR and launch a criminal investigation against the imam, Munir Ahmed Shakir.
“This is not just about Rehman or Salmaan Taseer. The whole point of this is that no one [has the right to be] judgmental other than God. If we have laws then you can prove something in court, but you cannot get up and start labelling people and inciting violence at such a sensitive time,” said Chishti.
“I was there at the sermon,” he told The Express Tribune. “At first, the imam indirectly praised Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri [who allegedly assassinated Taseer] and then lauded him directly. He started saying that the blasphemy law could not be changed and anyone doing so was wrong. He said that people like Sherry Rehman are now non-Muslims [because they are proposing changes to the law],” added the journalist. SHO Rana Amjad said that the Darakshan police immediately spoke to Imam Shakir, who categorically denied that he issued a fatwa or incited hatred against Rehman.
“We spoke to the imam. He said that this is absolutely not the case,” Amjad said. According to the police officer, the imam told him that he had only asked people at the sermon that keeping the situation in mind, they should not take the blasphemy law into their own hands and should let the courts handle the issue.
Shakir told the police that he had neither declared Rehman a blasphemer nor sanctioned her murder in any way.
“Intelligence agencies monitor Friday sermons and according to their report, such an event did not take place. We have told the complainant, Ali Kamran Chishti, to substantiate this [accusation],” Amjad added.
Chishti said that because there is no audio or visual recording of the sermon, they will be filing affidavits from three witnesses at the city court in Karachi on Thursday, following which they hope that the police will lodge an FIR.
A report published in Daily Times on Sunday stated that Sultan Masjid was being run under the supervision of Saudi Arabia’s military attache.
SHO Amjad said that they were looking into who governed the mosque’s affairs. Chishti said, “If it turns out that he is an employee of the Saudi consulate and has diplomatic immunity, the police will file an FIR based on the law for foreigners.”
Amjad also denied that hate literature was being circulated outside mosques in the area.
In an interview with The Express Tribune in December, former president Pervez Musharraf recalled how a DG Inter-Services Intelligence was exiting Sultan Masjid and had caught a young boy distributing hate literature outside while the police was simply looking the other way.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2011.