Ahmadi persecution: Police bow to clerics to tear down minarets

Published: September 22, 2013
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Sections 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code outlaw Ahmadis from calling their place of worship a masjid, claiming to be Muslims or preaching their faith to others.  PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Sections 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code outlaw Ahmadis from calling their place of worship a masjid, claiming to be Muslims or preaching their faith to others. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

LAHORE: 

Police demolished minarets at an Ahmadi place of worship in Sialkot on Saturday, after a group of protesters threatened to do so themselves, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The police approached the community on Friday after a local cleric complained that three worship places for Ahmadis had features that resembled mosques, namely minarets and verses from the Quran written on the walls.

The minarets and verses were covered up, apparently to the police’s satisfaction, but a baying mob gathered at one worship place the next day and demanded that the minarets be torn down. The police did so. The group of protesters is now demanding that similar action be taken against two other worship places within a couple of days.

The cleric whose complaint led to the action told The Express Tribune that he had approached the police after he attended a Khatm-i-Nabuwwat Conference on September 7, marking the anniversary of the passage of anti-Ahmadi laws, where a speaker said that Ahmadis were not allowed to build minarets or use verses from the Quran at their places of worship.

Sections 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code outlaw Ahmadis from calling their place of worship a masjid, claiming to be Muslims or preaching their faith to others.

Mini minarets

Sialkot City Circle DSP Hamid Mukhtar, who led the police operation, said that the complaint had been filed by Abdul Hameed Chishti, a local cleric belonging to Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, who had demanded the removal of the minarets, verses and Kalma at three worship places.

Advocate Parvaiz Cheema, spokesman for the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya Sialkot, said that they met with several police officers and district government officials and discussed the matter. They then visited the three worship places on Friday evening.

At the Baitul Zikr Ahmadiya in Sialkot Cantt, two two-feet high minarets at the entrance were hidden from view through the erection of a wall around them. At the main Ahmadi worship place in Sialkot, known as Kabutranwali Ibadatgah, the police were shown where Quranic verses and the name of the place – containing the term ‘masjid’ – had been painted over in the 1980s. The police, said Cheema, had objected that the paint was wearing off, so a fresh coat of white cement was applied. Two small minarets were also covered with cement.

At the Baitul Zikr Mubarik, they also covered the Kalma and Quranic verses with white cement. Cheema said that the police and district government officials had expressed satisfaction that the complaint had been addressed.

But on Saturday, a rally led by former Azad Jammu and Kashmir minister of religious affairs Sahibzada Hamid Raza stopped at Kabutranwali Ibadatgah and demanded that the minarets, covered by cement, be razed. They warned that they would do so themselves if they had to. The police complied with their demand.

DSP Mukhtar said that Hamid Raza and Chishti had led the rally at which hateful and provocative speeches against Ahmadis were delivered. He said that a report had been sent to high-ups and they would decide whether to take any action in this regard.

Cheema said that the protesters had been highly abusive of Ahmadis and their faith and this constituted hate speech. He said Sialkot was one of the biggest cities in the country for the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya, which had 100 administrative units and a similar number of worship places in the district. He expressed concern that these other places of worship would also come under attack.

Fear and loathing

Chishti, the complainant in the case, told The Express Tribune that they had identified minarets at two other Ahmadi worship places in Sialkot that must be demolished. He said that they had set a deadline of Tuesday for the demolition, failing which they would take matters into their own hands. He said Ahmadis should be grateful that Muslims were allowing them to live in their country, so they should live their lives as Muslims wanted.

He said that local Muslims had known that the minarets and verses at Ahmadi worship places were many years old, but at a Khatm-i-Nabuwwat conference in Sialkot on September 7, they had learned that this was illegal. That was why they had acted, he said.

Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya Pakistan spokesman Saleemuddin said that the action in Sialkot was a direct result of the anti-Ahmadi conferences that were held in September. “The police have a responsibility to protect Ahmadis instead of subjecting them to discrimination to appease clerics and bow to their demands,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • csmann
    Sep 23, 2013 - 12:28AM

    It is minarets today, tomorrow their lives.Meanwhile the law is silent,law-enforcement blind,politicians deaf,and fellow citizens aloof. A holocaust in the making!!

    Recommend

  • Mj
    Sep 23, 2013 - 12:57AM

    These are exactly the attitudes which lead to violence as we’ve seen today. They’ve already declared Ahmedis non-Muslim, and still won’t let them live in peace.

    Recommend

  • ahmad
    Sep 23, 2013 - 1:09AM

    Ahmadi Muslims, Shia Muslims and today Christians in Peshawar. May Allah save my Pakistan from these Mullahs and their fitna.

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  • lkhan
    Sep 23, 2013 - 10:32AM

    Such madness is in-comprehensive. Who are we to declare anyone non-muslim I ask. It is for God to decide. That such mad howling crowds are allowed to have their way – a very bad omen for Pakistan. I for one fully support Ahmadis and wish they were allowed to worship as they please.

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  • Steve
    Sep 23, 2013 - 11:13AM

    “He said Ahmadis should be grateful that Muslims were allowing them to live in their country, so they should live their lives as Muslims wanted.”

    By this definition Muslims abroad should live their lives according to the wishes of the people there. But instead they try and enforce their religion over there as well. Why are they so hypocritical?

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  • Gaurav
    Sep 23, 2013 - 11:16AM

    is it not a kind of untouchability or social boycott against Ahmadis

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  • Rand0m
    Sep 23, 2013 - 11:43AM

    To be fair and according to constitution Ahmadi’s are not Muslims and their places of worship are not supposed to be called mosques or look like one. Yes It is our responsibility to respect and protect their places of worship but they shouldn’t also abide by the law and don’t build them like Mosques.

    On the other side local administration should have asked the people who run the place of worship to alter the design instead of demolishing it. But then again we are a nation of extremists be it anti Ahmadi or Ahmadi apologists.

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  • Mj
    Sep 23, 2013 - 12:11PM

    “Why do the Ahmadi’s copy the Muslims. If they have changed their religion than they should not copy the Muslims and trick the Muslims to think that it is a Masjid. People criticize here any way they like, because they are keyboard warriors, nothing more.

    So much hate.

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  • Lawyer
    Sep 23, 2013 - 12:37PM

    @Mj:
    I don’t see hate in it. How do you see it? Muslims are not supposted to kill or abuse the Ahmadi’s. They just don’t want Ahmadi worship places not to look like Masjids. What wrong in that? I think you hate Muslims rather than Ahmadi’s.Recommend

  • farasat
    Sep 23, 2013 - 2:00PM

    Not a proud Pakistani anymore.

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  • Mj
    Sep 23, 2013 - 2:40PM

    @Lawyer:

    Why cannot their places of worship look like masjids? Do you know that many mosques in Eastern Europe and Central Asia look like churches? And did you know that the typical design for mosques is inspired by early Byzantine churches? No religion or nation has a copyright on design and architecture.

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  • Sep 23, 2013 - 3:24PM

    We all need Allah’s blessings and Allah’s protection. This is not the way to get it nor retain it. May Allah have mercy on Pakistan.

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  • waqas
    Sep 23, 2013 - 4:02PM

    @mj

    Make your self correct Mj we ahmadis don’t need to take certificate from any state or community that who is muslim and who is not?

    secondly world is not Pakistan, though today these religious political parties pretending that this country belongs to them, unfortunately you did not know that not a single religios party voted in favor of Pakistan in election 1946, its the Jammat-e-ahmadiyya who strongly stand with Quaid-e-azam,

    Who is responsible when quaid-e-azam left Sub-continent that he will never come back , its jammat-e-ahmadiyya who insist quaid-e-azam that Muslim leauge needs Him,

    Go and read 11sep speech of Qaid-e-azam.

    What Ahmadis are doing and how contributing to islam in rest of the world you never know and how can be when so narrow minded people lives there, Ask your media why they did not make coverage although they covered but never made headlines,

    Its your beliefs who is wrong and who is right but state cannot interfare in someones faith and when it happens The output is infront of Whole Nation.

    please dont make yourself Fool that only ahmadis are declered as non-muslim every single religious party has claimed mon-muslim to other one and no one can deny this.

    So its time to re-think open your Eyes.

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  • csmann
    Sep 23, 2013 - 4:04PM

    It is not about looks of buildings. The Mullahs have declared openly that they want to hound Ahmadis ,and exterminate them. And we see enough of their ilk in here.

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  • Ehsan
    Sep 23, 2013 - 4:08PM

    Oh, this is the freedom Pakistan guarantee its Minorities!!! Yesterday they freely killed 81 Christians and they demolished Minaret of 3 Ahmadi mosques, Tomorrow when you will cry for your rights, they will call it Blasphemy and kill you like Salman Taseer and if you flee Pakistan and becomes an Abdus Salam, they will call you Treason and a British agent.. WaO what a freedom.

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  • Umer
    Sep 23, 2013 - 4:41PM

    @Lawyer:

    They just don’t want Ahmadi worship places not to look like Masjids. What wrong in that? I

    It violates the right of freedom of religion which is the basic right of every human being. What sort of lawyer are you who does not know that Pakistan has signed UN’s International Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of religion among other things.

    Recommend

  • SRahman
    Sep 23, 2013 - 4:43PM

    The title should be “Pakistani establishment bow to fanatics to tear down the social harmony and humanity”. These kind of fascist acts inspire the oppressors even more.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Sep 23, 2013 - 5:01PM

    @Rand0m:

    But then again we are a nation of extremists be it anti Ahmadi or Ahmadi apologists.

    When did Ahmadi “apologists” killed anyone as opposed to how anti-Ahmadiyya do regularly? A case of wildly exaggerated false analogy. You are obviously short on real arguments and facts and high on prejudice and hate.

    Recommend

  • Jibran
    Sep 23, 2013 - 5:23PM

    Minaret is not part of Islam, and neither is the dome. Early mosques lacked minarets, and the domes were invented by the Romans. Muslim architects later just copied them. And now these mullahs claim to have all the copyrights?

    Recommend

  • Jibran
    Sep 23, 2013 - 5:25PM

    Punjab government is now officially persecuting Ahmadis. They should go to the International Court for Justice. The chief justice sitting in our country will never find any time to provide justice to the people on the receiving end.

    Recommend

  • Ayesha minhas
    Sep 23, 2013 - 6:00PM

    This is yet another sad event. No point of arguing about whats right and wrong. As much as it hurted me to read the article as an Ahmadi I pray to my Allah to grant these ill hearted people some wisdom . Because the day our Allah comes to protect us they wont be able to hide anywhere.

    Recommend

  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Sep 23, 2013 - 7:12PM

    Wake up Pakistan. Crazy clerics.

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  • Real Truth
    Sep 23, 2013 - 7:25PM

    Islam continues to be hijacked by illiterate, ignorant human beings who call themselves Muslims. I live in Canada, and know a number of Ahmadis; they are one of the finest and most peace-loving community. Through their character, they represent true Islam in the West. Its a shame how low we are stooping to in Pakistan to persecute this community! Who are we to call them non-Muslims?

    Recommend

  • aanjana
    Sep 23, 2013 - 11:03PM

    irony is that for them you are doing fitna@ahmad:

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  • gp65
    Sep 23, 2013 - 11:36PM

    ETBLOGS1987

    ET Mods – please publish fact based response to some very hateful comments

    @Rand0m: “To be fair and according to constitution Ahmadi’s are not Muslims and their places of worship are not supposed to be called mosques or look like one. “

    TO be fair to whom? Not to Ahmadis surely? DO you know what Jinnah said when he was asked if Ahmadis were Muslims or not? “Ahmadis are Muslims, If They Say They are Muslims and No One, Not Even the Sovereign Legislature, has the Right to Say Otherwise.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah, 05 May 1944.

    http://pkpolitics.com/discuss/topic/ahmadis-are-muslims-mohammad-ali-jinnah

    In any case Christians do not call themselves Muslim do they? Take a look at what St. Peter’s Church in Russai looks like. http://blstb.msn.com/i/C1/FAE4265C2296A8E64C69D6F2059.jpg

    There is no patent on minarets that only masjids can use them.

    @Lawyer: “I don’t see hate in it. How do you see it? Muslims are not supposted to kill or abuse the Ahmadi’s. They just don’t want Ahmadi worship places not to look like Masjids. What wrong in that?”

    So according to you, destroying people’s worship place is not problematic? Who gives these extremist Sunnis authority to decide who is Muslims and who is not? What does it say that police is actually complicit in destroying places of worship. In any case let us assume that the Ahmadis are not Muslim, who gives them the right to decide what their worship place can look like?

    Recommend

  • afzaalkhan
    Sep 24, 2013 - 12:49AM

    They can always migrate if they have such issue? Follow the law, they refuse to follow the law and than complaint

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  • Umer
    Sep 24, 2013 - 6:07AM

    @afzaalkhan:

    They can always migrate if they have such issue? Follow the law, they refuse to follow the law and than complaint

    The law is not fair. It is discriminatory against Ahmadis. You can’t make persecution legal and call it right.

    Recommend

  • shujaat khan
    Sep 24, 2013 - 8:48AM

    Police officer’s should be fired. Legal action taken against the police department and Mr Chisti should be jailed.

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  • Gurion
    Sep 24, 2013 - 9:40AM

    And to think of it, minarets were a feature muslims copied from European architecture. None of the initial Arab desert dwellers had any clue about architecture and engineering.

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  • azmat Mehmmod
    Sep 24, 2013 - 3:08PM

    i protest it is against the humanity and worst behavior with minorities.Recommend

  • ashar
    Sep 24, 2013 - 3:49PM

    Keyboard warriors. ET why the comments have been deleted while the replies of the particular comments are still there. Scared?Recommend

  • Observer
    Sep 24, 2013 - 10:07PM

    Muslims in in Pakistan rake up destruction of Babri Masjid in India at ever opportunity. How is destruction of this Ahmedi place of worship any different? At least, in Babri case, it was a defunct masjid that was built right on a temple that was destroyed.

    Double standards?

    etblogs2013

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  • Abu Nouman
    Sep 25, 2013 - 2:52AM

    I think minorties should respect law of the and stop provoking common man.Recommend

  • AlChemist
    Sep 25, 2013 - 3:28AM

    I am disappointed at ET for not publishing my comment. The comment did not have any coarse language nor disrespect to any one. It just contained a question from a commenter before.

    I guess comments are published to the personal satisfaction of moderators.

    Recommend

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