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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Ahmedi-baiting in Lahore

Ahmedi-baiting: ridiculous or tragic?

The 20 shopkeepers of Green Town in Lahore have been advised to remove any Quranic verses from their shops simply to avoid bloody mayhem, given the atmosphere of extremism in the country. The shopkeepers are Ahmedis who represent the cluster of 200 houses belonging to the community in the nearby Township area. Some of them have written verses from the Quran (like the kalima) on the front of their shops and houses.

The Ahmedis complain that the Sunni shopkeepers had gone to the police in the matter out of business jealousy. They say the verses had stayed written on their houses and shops for many years. But the stark fact is that under the Constitution and the laws framed in line with an amendment made in it, the Ahmedis are not even allowed to show respect towards Islamic symbols. They have been declared non-Muslims but with the distinction that while other non-Muslims can show respect, they cannot.

Outsiders will regard this as ridiculous or even funny, but in Pakistan this is a deadly serious matter. People have died for it, and angry organisations with global connections are calling for more drastic action against the Ahmedis every day. The application to the police against the Ahmedis has been moved in the name of the International Majlis Khatm-e-Nabuwwat. The police in the area of Green Town cannot wave the affair away.

According to Section 298-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), the Ahmedi community cannot call its place of worship a masjid and cannot give the call to prayer (azan). According to Section 298-C of the PPC, they cannot pose as Muslims, directly or indirectly. There was this extremely absurd incident of an Ahmedi being hauled up for having written the kalima on the house that he had just bought; but he was hauled up again, for desecration, when he tried to wipe it off. (Daily Times)

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