Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday issued notices to the federal government and the Ministry of Religious Affairs in connection with a petition alleging anti-Shia bias with regard to Hajj affairs.
Syed Ali Hadi, the petitioner, told the court that the concerned authorities had not been ensuring the provision of facilities to Shia pilgrims in accordance with the sect’s tenets. Barrister Syeda Masooma Bokhari, the counsel for the petitioner, said performing Hajj was binding on all able Muslims. She said it was a duty of the government to facilitate all its Muslim citizens in this regard. Bokhari alleged that intending Shia pilgrims were being discriminated against courtesy the inclusion of a question in Hajj forms that read “are you a Shia?” She said this was inherently offensive.
The counsel for the petitioner said that while the question had ostensibly been included in the form to facilitate Shia pilgrims, nothing was done to this effect following their arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In the absence of any such provision, she said, the question merely served to compromise Shia pilgrims’ security, ostracise them and stoke prejudice against them. Bokhari requested the court to direct the government to take special measures to facilitate Shia pilgrims. She also demanded a quota to be reserved for Shia pilgrims to ensure non-sectarian selection of people for Hajj. Justice Atir Mahmood issued notices seeking replies from the aforementioned authorities by March 19 following the conclusion of arguments.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2016.
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