LAHORE: Members of an Islamic organisation removed Quranic texts and religious words from the shop of an Ahmadi family in Kot Abdul Malik, Sheikhupura, on August 14 with the help of local police.
Factory Area Police had gone to Qamar Zia's mobile shop with members of an Islamic organisation, Almi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwat and removed two lines of Quranic texts and the word Mash’Allah from outside the shop and inside as well.
His father’s name “Muhammad Ali” inscribed on the gate of the residence, next to Zia’s shop, was also removed with the help of welding equipment and then painted over.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Zia said, “I kept on saying that this is my father’s name and not a religious expression, and it can be verified from his identification card, but they did not pay heed to my request.”
Zia added that after committing the act, a mob of residents and members of the Almi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwat, congregated outside the house and spoke against Ahmadis. The police then dispersed the mob.
Zia, a 35 year old cell shop owner who has lived in the Muhalla Roshan Abad, Scheme number 3, Kot Abdul Malik since he was three year old, said that at the beginning of August, three young men from the aforementioned organisation came outside his shop and began taking pictures. When Zia asked them to stop, the men abused him, saying, “You have no right to put this text up.”
On August 6, Zia submitted an application in the Factory Area Police Station, to complain against the harassment, but the police did not take notice of his protest.
However on August 7, the organisation’s men went to the police station and filed an application for registering an FIR against Zia, to charge him under section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, after which the police invited both parties to the police station on August 10 to resolve the matter.
According to Zia, at the meeting, when he was asked to remove the religious texts from the shop, he refused, saying that the law can decide whatever steps it wants to take, but he would not commit the disrespectful act.
Zia claims that the police officer had cautioned him that he would be killed if he did not comply.
“Son, even if the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat men kill you, I will not be able to do anything,” the officer had said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Abdul Kursheed, one of the members of the Majlis said, “The Ahmadi man violated the law, and we will report them again if they repeat this act, and unlike this recent incident the police will take action, not us.”
Similar to recent incidents, wherein Ahmadis were accused of “posing as Muslims”, in this case too, police officials said the steps were taken to "maintain peace."
SHO Factory Area Police, Sami-Ullah Khan told The Express tribune, “We took all measures to resolve the issue, we did not want unrest. Anyone can take guidance from the Holy Book.”
Khan added that, “we sent our personnel because people were gathered at the spot, and we did not want any untoward incident.”
Zia said that, “there was no way for us, but to give in to the law.”
He added that he did not send his children to school after the incident on August 14, out of fear, and said that he had heard rumors that the Majlis men were involved in campaigning against his business as well.
Almi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwat is known to campaign against Ahmadi business men and in promoting social boycott against the community through lectures, conferences and literature in form of stickers, banners and posters.
Zia said that such polarization had only increased in his area in the last couple of years.
In Punjab, persecution of Ahmadi citizens has been on the rise in 2012, including desecration of their places of worship.
Country spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, told The Express Tribune, “We send monthly updates to the Presidency, PM house, interior ministry, ministry of religious affairs, ministry of human rights and respective provincial governments, but have hardly ever received even an acknowledgment of our correspondence.”
On the role of the police, the spokesperson added that, “Kot Abdul Malik is next to Lahore, this is not Waziristan that the police could not control the cleric without giving into their pressure,” adding, “In a country, where our dead are not spared, how will we protect our living.”