For some bigots, putting up a portrait of a man vaguely associated with the founder of the Ahmadi sect is enough to deserve being ‘punished’ with exile from the district and a ban on your business.
That, at least, has been the experience of Sheikh Arif, a hakeem (practitioner of traditional medicine) in Haripur. A gathering of so-called ‘religious’ leaders took place in Haripur on Monday, where they ‘decided’ to ‘expel’ Arif from the district and ‘banned’ his business.
Arif’s supposed ‘crime’ was to have a picture on his shop’s signboard of Hakeem Muhammad Hussain, allegedly an associate of the founder of the Ahmadi sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani. It was not immediately clear why the so-called religious leaders found the portrait quite so offensive. Where they felt they got the authority to ‘ban’ a business and ‘exile’ a person also remains unclear.
The meeting was attended by representatives of all factions of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, the Aalmi Majlis Tahafuz Khatm-e-Nabuwat, the Shaban Khatm-e-Nabuwat, the Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat, and Wafaq ul Madaras. Attendees warned the district administration of agitation if the government failed to ban Arif’s entry into the district.
Without offering any evidence, the gathering accused the hakeem of preaching the beliefs of the Ahmadi sect, which they claimed was unconstitutional. They seem misinformed on that front: Article 20 of the constitution states “every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion.”
Arif himself, meanwhile, appears to have disappeared. His shop was closed when this correspondent visited, though the ‘offensive’ portrait had been removed.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2011.
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