Barelvis demand share of mosques in DHA

Say 80 per cent of DHA mosques are controlled by ‘supporters of terrorists’.

Barelvi clerics have demanded that they get a greater share of khateeb posts in the mosques in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) areas in Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, as 80 per cent of them were run by “supporters of terrorists”.

In a resolution presented at a public meeting attended by thousands at the Railway Stadium on Saturday night, the clerics also demanded that khateebs for mosques in government residential schemes and DHA be chosen in accordance with their proportion in the population.

Speaking later to The Express Tribune, a spokesman elaborated that the Barelvis are the “authentic” Sunnis as opposed to the Deobandis, though the latter also consider themselves to be Sunnis. He also claimed that the Barelvis represent the 80 per cent population of Pakistan that identifies as Sunnis, and hence they should get control of 80 per cent of mosques.

At the public meeting, the clerics said that 80 per cent of mosques in DHA were under the control of the Deobandi sect, which was patronising terrorism. They said that handing control of these mosques to Deobandi prayer leaders had promoted sectarianism. “Supporters and informers of terrorists and banned organisations must be denied government employment,” read the resolution.

The resolution added that Badshahi Masjid was built by a Sunni Mughal emperor but was now controlled by a Deobandi scholar. It also demanded foolproof security for Barelvi shrines and seminaries.

DHA spokesman Tajammul Hussain said that he did not know how many mosques had Deobandi khateebs, as there was no quota for any particular sect. He said the minimum requirements for the job were a masters degree in Arabic or Islamiat and the ability to write “balanced sermons”. He said a committee conducted interviews of the candidates and made appointments. He said all DHA employees, including khateebs, were eligible for a plot once they completed nine years of service.

‘Free Qadri’

The resolution presented at the ‘All Pakistan Aqeeda Tauheed Seminar’ at the Railway Stadium on Saturday night also demanded the release of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer; condemned the release of US agent Raymond Davis; and called for the killing of American pastor Terry Jones for burning a copy of the Holy Quran.

Addressing the participants, Maulana Dr Muhammad Ashraf Asif Jalali, founder of Idara Sirat-i-Mustaqeem, said that the US drone attacks in the Tribal Areas were a challenge to Pakistan’s sovereignty and the government should stop these attacks. He said US forces must leave Afghanistan and Iraq and let their peoples elect their own governments.

Jalali demanded that the government take immediate steps to end the power crisis as electricity outages had ruined the economy. He made the audience swear an oath to defend Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which provides for the punishment of people convicted of blasphemy, even if that involved a fight to the death. He said that if the courts decided against “Ghazi” Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, they would hold a long march from Lahore to Islamabad in protest.

Dr Muhammad Raghib Hussain Naeemi said that it was time to rid Pakistan of America and its aggressive policies. He said that the drone strikes had caused more terrorism in the country.

Pir Azmat Ali Shah, Pir Sardar Ahmed, Pir Karamat Ali Shah, Navidul Hasan Shah and Hafiz Abdul Sattar Lahori also gave speeches.


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