Plans to regulate Friday sermon hit a snag

No progress made on the issue since December, 2016, says Dr Qayoom Soomro

Our Correspondent October 12, 2017

KARACHI: The provincial government, with the help of the federal authorities, attempted to maintain sectarian harmony by curbing hate speeches at places of worship but the idea fizzled out.

“This was a part of the National Action Plan after the Army Public School attack,” said a senior official at the home department. He added that former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif had insisted the civilian government regulate sermons in all provinces but, after his retirement, the government shot down the idea.

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The regulation of Friday sermons was discussed in many apex committee meetings in Karachi and religious affairs minister had also prepared a draft after consultation with various the religious parties and organisations but there has been no progress since December, 2016, the official said.

“During Friday sermons clerics belonging to different faiths not only criticise each other but use offensive language and hurt the sentiments of others,” said Dr Qayoom Soomro, former adviser to the chief minister on religious affairs and focal person for drafting a law on the issue.

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“We attempted to introduce a unified sermon for all mosques keeping in line with the Quran and Hadith. A majority of religious and political parties evolved consensus on it and a law was drafted,” he told The Express Tribune. “But unexpectedly I was removed from the post because of the Supreme Court’s order and I have no update on it,” he added.

However, official sources referred to a meeting of the apex committee at Chief Minister House and said that during the meeting the former army chief said, “This process should be expedited as we need it on a national level”.

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Sources said that a unified sermon, under the pattern of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, was proposed but some religious groups and parties had expressed reservations about it.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Asadullah Bhutto called it a ‘dead issue’. However, Shia leader Allama Qamber Abbas Naqvi welcomed the decision. “There should be proper monitoring of elements that deliver hate speeches during Friday sermons,” he said.

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“The Sindh government cannot dictate to us in the name of Friday sermon. We will not accept their decision,” Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl naib Amir Qari Muhammad Usman said. When his attention was drawn to Saudi Arabia, where same sermons are delivered in all mosques, he said, “Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, we will [agree to it] if the government implements Islam and Sharia in letter and spirit in Pakistan.”


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