Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ahmadiyah refugees to take risk, return home

--- The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Headlines - Sat, 02/28/2009 9:12 AM

Ahmadiyah refugees to take risk, return home


After living in uncertainty at a refugee center in West Nusa Tenggara for three years, 68 members of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect have decided to risk returning home.

Syahidin, coordinator for the refugees, said the 68 people from 17 families would move from the Transito building in Mataram back to their homes in Ketapang hamlet, Gegerung village, Lingsar district, West Lombok regency, on March 14.

“We the 17 families, including mine, have decided to return to our homes in Ketapang, whatever the risk we might face, after having lived here in uncertainty for three years. We want to live like any other citizens,” Syahidin said Friday.

He added at least four people had died at the refugee center, while nine babies were born there during the same period.

At least 160 Ahmadiyah members from 33 families were driven from their homes after hard-line Muslims attacked them and destroyed their homes and belongings in early February 2006.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) previously issued an edict calling the Ahmadiyah heretical. The edict was seized upon by other hard-line Muslims to attack the sect’s followers elsewhere, including in West Java.

Based on the edict, among other factors, the government then banned Ahmadiyah followers from spreading their teachings.

The MUI said Ahmadiyah followers had deviated from mainstream Islam by believing that sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet.

Human rights activists have long deplored the attacks against the sect’s followers and criticized the MUI for issuing the edict that triggered the widespread violence.

Syahidin said the 17 families decided to return home because their houses were still habitable, while the remaining 16 families chose to stay because their homes were completely destroyed. He added he hoped the police and local administration would accompany the refugees on their return.

“But if they don’t, we will still go back home. On the security front, we believe the police are responsible for security,” he said.

The Social Services Ministry previously stopped donating rice to the refugees, saying they could no longer be considered refugees because they had lived at the center for three years. The ministry said the rice stock would be prioritized for victims of natural disasters.

Jauzi Djafar, West Nusa Tenggara chairman of the Indonesia Ahmadiyah Group, said his group had sent a letter to Governor M. Zainul Majdi to inform him of the planned return.

He added copies of the letter were also sent to the President, Vice President, home minister, religious affairs minister, social services minister, National Police chief, attorney general and the National Commission on Human Rights.

“We sent the letters on Feb. 20 to high- and low-ranking officials, including in Gegerung,” he said.

He added the planned return was the Ahmadis’ own initiative since the government had seemingly forgotten their plight.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Islamic council’s fatwas divide Indonesia

---The Earth Times

Islamic council’s fatwas divide Indonesia - Feature
Posted : Thu, 26 Feb 2009 06:47:55 GMT
Author : DPA

Jakarta – A series of religious edicts issued by Indonesia’s council of Muslim scholars has triggered controversy, exposing sharp divisions between conservatives and liberals in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. In January, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning Muslims from practising yoga that includes Hindu rituals, such as chanting.

It also ruled smoking in public and abstaining from electoral voting are sinful.

The rulings, which are not legally binding, sparked criticism from some Indonesians who worried about their implications on human rights and democratic freedom with some critics going further by suggesting that the government disband the council.

The council has been criticized for fatwas issued in 2005 declaring that liberalism and secularism are against Islamic tenets and that the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect is heretical because it does not recognize Muhammad as the last of the prophets.

The fatwa on Ahmadiyya has been blamed for a series of attacks on the property and followers of the sect by fundamentalist Muslims.

The council has defended its edicts, saying its job is to provide guidance to Muslims on issues of public concern.

“It’s obvious there are Muslims who don’t understand religious laws, and they need fatwas on issues that are not clearly stated in the Koran,” said Amidhan, a council deputy chairman who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

But some liberal observers said they believe the fatwas are a threat to the country’s reputation as a tolerant nation that respects diversity.

Muhammad Syafi’i Anwar, executive director of the International Centre for Islam and Pluralism, said the edicts showed that the council was aligning with groups that seek to impose sharia, or Islamic law, in Indonesia.

“This is part of creeping ‘shariaization,’ but I’m optimistic they won’t go very far,” Anwar said. “I believe the media is critical.”

The council and other groups representing followers of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism were set up by the government of former dictator Suharto as part of his efforts to maintain religious harmony and his grip on power.

The council is not a government institution and is funded by public donations, but under Suharto’s rule, which ended in 1998 amid widespread unrest, the council’s fatwas tended to toe the government line.

“The MUI is trying to assert its power because it was only a rubber-stamp institution during the Suharto era,” Anwar said “They have more influence, thanks to the backing of groups that promote conservative agendas.”

The overwhelming majority of Indonesia’s 190 million Muslims are moderate, but a vocal Islamist minority has been clamouring for the imposition of sharia.

Fachry Ali, a political analyst at the University of Indonesia, said he did not believe the council had ambitions beyond what it sees as religious duties.

“Yoga, for example, is problematic in the context of pure Islam, which is against all forms of idolatry,” he said. “MUI is just one of those groups seeking to purify Islam.”

“The MUI believes that the views of the liberals are not based on religious texts,” Fachry added. “It’s hard to reconcile when both sides stick to their points of departure.”

The council said Muslims could still practise yoga, which is increasingly popular among middle-class Indonesians, if they don’t use chants associated with Hinduism and treat it purely as a form of physical exercise.

The council said it fears the ancient Indian exercise could erode the faith of Muslims

Dian Putri, who works for a media company, said she did not intend to follow the council fatwas although she does not practice yoga with chanting.

“They are too extreme,” she said. “It’s like they are playing God. Maybe those fatwas are useful for religious Muslims, but for more liberal ones, sometimes their statements are disturbing.”

But Henri Basel, a teacher, said he supported the council.

“People criticize the fatwas without reading them in their entirety,” he said. “Of course, people can choose not to follow the fatwas if they also have sound religious reasonings, but there’s no point in making a fuss about it.”

“Those so-called liberals have access to the media like newspapers, TV and the Internet, but the majority of Indonesians don’t necessarily agree with them,” he said.

Copyright, respective author or news agency

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ahmadis targeted in India

--- Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful
International Press and Media Desk
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International
22 Deer Park, London, SW19 3TL
Tel / Fax (44) 020 8544 7613 Mobile (44) 077954 90682
21 February 2009


It is with great regret that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat confirms that members of its community in parts of India are facing increasingly dangerous living conditions due to the presence of local Mullahs (extreme Muslim clerics).

In the town of Atar Akhand, near the larger cities of Dioband and Braily, local opponents are threatening Ahmadis by stating that they must leave the town or they will be murdered. Those behind the threats are sending local Mullahs to all areas inhabited by Ahmadis. Thereafter the Mullahs are subjecting the Ahmadi population to various forms of severe harassment.

The situation is particularly tense because tomorrow, the anti-Ahmadiyya groups are planning to hold a large scale rally at Ajabpur in opposition to the Jamaat. Mullahs and their followers are travelling from great distance to partake in this event. Reports suggest that the rally will be used as a call to arms to create an atmosphere of hatred and cruelty similar to that seen in Saharanpur last August when Ahmadis had their properties destroyed; were attacked and forced to flee the town.

As a further means of concern, in the State of Karnataka persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat is also increasing at a disturbing rate. Local Missionaries have been attacked and some have even been kidnapped and taken to the mosques and madrassas of the opponents where they have been issued with various threats.

Many new Ahmadis and those who are financially weak are being targeted and told that unless they remove all Ahmadi missionaries from the area they will be killed.

The persecution in Karnataka is not limited to the pursuit and harassment of individuals; in fact many false reports have been submitted to the local police claiming that Ahmadis are ‘terrorists’. This is leading to Ahmadis being falsely arrested and imprisoned, causing great worry for their families, friends and for the Jamaat at large. Further, the Mullahs are using their power to order a social boycott of Ahmadis at every opportunity.

The current situation is similar to persecution that occurred in the same region two years ago, however all reports suggest that the level of hatred and cruelty has increased markedly and that particularly the situation has deteriorated a great deal in the last three weeks. The opponents are known to be currently making further, more severe, plans.
Abid Khan, Spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat said:
“What is happening in parts of India is of great concern to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. Ahmadis are routinely facing death threats and violence. Many Ahmadis here in the UK and elsewhere have family back in India and so the current situation is of great concern.
It should be pointed out that unlike in Pakistan where Ahmadis are subjected to persecution throughout the country, in India incidents are much rarer. However there seems to be a pattern emerging whereby now even the Mullahs in India are feeling greater licence to threaten and persecute whole Ahmadi communities.”
The International Community and Media is urged to take serious note of the continued persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. In an era where the name of Islam is continually being tarnished due to horrific acts falsely justified in its name, those in positions of influence ought to take this opportunity to help the one Muslim organisation that has continuously strived for peace throughout the world.

End of Release
Further info: Abid Khan, (44) 07795490682 /

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monthly Newsreport - Ahmadiyya Persecution in Pakistan - January, 2009

--- Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Pakistan

An Ahmadi is shot dead for his faith

Kotri, Sindh; January 19, 2009: Mr. Saeed Ahmad was assassinated by unknown persons at Kotri on January 19, 2009. He was fifty five. He had no personal enmity with anyone. He returned home one evening from his job. At the entrance of his house, a man standing nearby shot him in the head. The attacker fled after the attack. Mr. Ahmad died on the spot. An FIR was recorded against unknown persons, but no arrest has yet been made.

He was a pious man who was at peace with himself and his environment. He had a wife and four children. Three of his children are college-going. This family migrated from Sakrand to Kotri in 1990. He was buried in the Ahmadiyya graveyard in Kot Gondal, District Hyderabad.

Kotri was the scene of intensive anti-Ahmadiyya sectarian agitation during last year. The police and the judiciary acted with hostility towards Ahmadis, and failed to provide them with protection. The present murder is the latest attack in the same context. The administration and the police have to share the responsibility for the loss of this innocent life. One could see it coming for months. Chapter 4 of last year’s Annual Report may be seen for the sectarian incidents at Kotri during 2008.

Four Ahmadi school children and an adult frivolously booked and arrested by the police on false accusation of Blasphemy by extremist elements
The applied clause PPC 295-C carries death penalty

Kot Sultan, District Layyah (Punjab): The police charged four school-going Ahmadi children aged 14 – 19 and an adult on a false charge of blasphemy, under section PPC 295-C on January 28, 2009 with FIR 46/09 at police station Kot Sultan. The accused children are Muhammad Irfan, Tahir Imran, Tahir Mahmud and Naseeb Ahmad. Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, an adult is also on the list of accused. Although the complaint was made by one, Liaquat Ali, the fabricated accusation was pushed by Shahbaz, a school teacher, and one N.E. Kulachi who belongs to the religious group Jamaat-ud-Daawa, banned recently by the UN for promoting terrorism.

The police arrested the accused without establishing a prima facie case. They charged them without evidence and before any investigation. The applied blasphemy clause carries the death penalty.

According to the accusation, graffiti defiling the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was found on the toilet walls of a local mosque. It must have been undertaken by the four boys under instructions from Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, speculated the accuser. The complainant has provided no evidence. In fact, the accusation is false and smacks of conspiracy. The police will do well to look for the blasphemer among the group that is making the most noise.

The Daily Times of January 30, 2009 reported: “Saqlain Shah, an MNA from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, denied his uncle had pressured police. But he said representatives of the Ahmadiyya community should have visited his uncle’s residence for the matter to be resolved in line with local traditions, instead of denying the charges. He also said that Ahmadis had first lodged cases against local Muslims (for violating the Loud Speakers Act and under the Maintenance of Public Order) after not being allowed to hold a religious meeting, and should now ‘face the truth’.” Although what the MNA said is opprobrious, it manifestly shows the political support the accusers have and the warlord attitude to an issue which is essentially one of law and order.

According to the relevant law, an officer of the rank of superintendent of police is required to investigate blasphemy cases. As this law was deliberately worded to make it ineffective, it provides no relief to those falsely accused, as has happened in this case, and often before. This law is essentially mala fide like the blasphemy law. It is a hoax.

According to the latest reports, the mulla, despite the arrests, has continued to make threatening speeches, distribute leaflets and instigate the masses. Large processions have been taken out and loot is attempted. Ahmadis had to shift their women and children to safer locations, but their men stayed at home to ensure self-defence. They are also facing a social boycott.

For weeks in the recent past, the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby had been fermenting agitation. In the blasphemy accusation they have found a convenient weapon with which to strike. Simultaneously, they have threatened bloodshed, arson and processions. This has provided an excuse to the police to register the case and make immediate arrests. It makes no sense that the police arrest innocent persons to forestall a threat to law and order. This amounts to playing in the hands of religious extremists.

Inspector Khalid Rauf told AHRC (Asian Human Rights Commission) that “the gravity of the case against Islam justified arresting the children first. He said the police do not know of any substantial evidence that links the four students with the crime.” Unbelievable but true, that no police official saw what, if anything, defiling was written on the toilet walls. According to the AHRC “Family members were told (by the district police officer) that the police were under pressure from the fundamentalists to act against the children.”

The BBC reports that according to the police no one saw the named boys writing the (blasphemous) words. “Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (was) alarmed over four children’s detention on blasphemy charges”, reported the Daily Times, Lahore of January 30, 2009. “Victimizing children with false accusations is the most condemnable use of the blasphemy law”, said the Ahmadiyya community spokesman. The AHRC urged “the government of President Asif Zardari to immediately release the illegally detained prisoners. Instead they should turn their attention to the dependence of Punjab Police on fundamentalist Islamic groups and the implementation of the rule of law in the province …”

On February 3, an HRCP team visited Layyah to investigate. It noted that “the circumstantial evidence prima facie failed to prove the allegation against five people.” The team observed that “even in the FIR there is only suspicion of the involvement of the accused in the crime.” The HRCP team found five Ahmadi families consisting of around 40 people ‘in utter fear’. The wife of the accused man told the HRCP team that a local shopkeeper refused to sell her grocery and told her not to visit his shop because he feared that this might put his life and property at risk. District Police Officer Muhammad Azam did not meet the HRCP team. He also did not allow the team to interview the accused. (The daily Dawn, Lahore; February 4, 2009) The children have been shifted away to Dera Ghazi Khan prison where they have been lodged separate from their Ahmadi senior. No Ahmadi was allowed to visit them.

It is learnt that Mr. Sarwat Nadeem, a provincial minister in Baluchistan came over and met the local MNA Mr. Saqlain Shah who is unsympathetic to the plight of the accused.

The Daily Times of January 30, 2009 quoted religious scholar Javed Ghamdi as, “the children were safer in police custody.” The learned scholar should consider that there are other ways available to the state to protect innocent children than arrest them on charges that carry the death penalty. The police action seriously violates Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Hundreds of Ahmadis have faced charges and accusations under the blasphemy laws and many have suffered in prisons for years. One of them, Muhammad Iqbal is now undergoing a life sentence in Faisalabad prison, although he is innocent. This is his fifth year in prison. A few months ago, a venerable old Ahmadi Dr Asghar was booked on a false accusation of blasphemy, and was arrested. The lower courts denied him release on bail. A few days ago a high court judge also rejected his plea for bail, observing reportedly, “We shall provide no relief to those who defile the names of great divines.” This observation by the judge based on presumption of guilt of the accused was unbecoming and callous. The gentleman remains behind bars and has to go to the Supreme Court to get relief against the fabricated charge.

The state should pay heed that it is this kind of handling that has led to near loss of government writ in Swat. Submission to clerics and poor governance are no answer to social and communal problems.

If the government is serious about fighting the evil of terrorism and sectarianism, it must take effective action against religious extremists by at least withdrawing support to them in the use of the blasphemy law, a convenient tool available to them. As a first step, the state should immediately withdraw all the false blasphemy charges against those accused in all cases, to make its declared policy credible.

An Ahmadi, facing fabricated charge of blasphemy is denied release on bail at the High Court level

Lahore, January 19, 2009: Justice Rana Zahid Mahmud of Lahore High Court rejected the bail application of Dr Asghar an elderly Ahmadi falsely accused of blasphemy. “We shall provide no relief to those who defile the names of great divines,” observed the judge (the daily Pakistan of January 20, 2009). This observation of the judge was improper as the trial has yet to start. The accused now has to approach the Supreme Court to seek well-deserved relief. The backdrop of this case is worth mentioning.

In June last year, agitators of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization put up defamatory posters on a wall in Nankana Sadar. Someone tore one of these off and the group rushed to the police to lodge a complaint against 16 Ahmadis for Blasphemy. Of these, six were named and 10 anonymous in FIR 351/08. The police registered the case, raided Ahmadi homes and detained individuals. One of those arrested was an elderly gentleman, Dr. Asghar Abdul Rahman. They held him as the prime suspect and interrogated him for days. Eventually, by 10th September 2008, the investigation was complete, and the police concluded that the doctor was not the one who tore down the poster.

On September 11, Muhammad Malik, the complainant in the above case was on his way back from the mosque after the evening prayers (Isha) when two men on a motor-cycle overtook him, and shot him dead.

Boota, the father of Malik, in consultation with his advisors, approached the police and had an FIR registered in which he named two Ahmadis as the murderers and two of their non-Ahmadi friends as helpers in the attack. He mentioned in the complaint that Ahmadis killed his son because he was the complainant in the Blasphemy case, and as such instrumental in the arrest of Dr Asghar. Mr. Tahir Nadeem, one of the Ahmadis accused was a son of Dr Asghar while Mr. Rashid the other accused was the doctor’s nephew. Rather than releasing Dr Asghar whom they had found innocent of the alleged blasphemy, they arrested his son and nephew also. They also arrested the third person, while the fourth went into hiding from fear of the police. But this was not the end of the matter.

A few weeks later, police investigators located the actual killers and arrested one of them. He confessed the murder and informed the police of others who were involved. The police thereafter released all the Ahmadis who were detained as suspects. However, they retained Dr Asghar in the blasphemy case, equally false, as a lower court denied bail to the innocent doctor. Several attempts for the bail of Dr. Asghar were made in Sessions Court but they were of no avail. Eventually eight months after his arrest when the High Court was approached for relief, Justice Rana Zahid Mahmud rejected the justified plea for bail. He acted more like a mulla than a judge.

It is appropriate to mention here a statement of the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Mr. Hussain Haqani, at the occasion of the inauguration of the new US President: The United States should come forward to support the people of Pakistan in their dream of making Pakistan a strong and stable democracy, economically vibrant – country where human rights and dignity are respected.

Attack and abduction attempt against an Ahmadi doctor

A gang of armed men tried to abduct an Ahmadi doctor Mr. Mansoor Ahmad at Bazid Khail, Peshawar on January 19, 2009. He was at his clinic when they arrived. They came in three vehicles. All of them were wearing long shalwar kameez and were wrapped in sheets. They had long hair and beards and looked like the Taliban of the Afridi clan. They grabbed the doctor and dragged him to their car. In the scuffle they injured him by hitting him on his head with a Kalashnikov butt. The doctor’s brother received news of this and fired on the attackers from his house that is adjacent to the clinic. The ensuing firefight injured two of them. One of them fell down on the ground. The abductors let go Mr. Mansoor Ahmad and helped their colleague. They succeeded in making their escape along with their injured companions.

Dr. Mansoor Ahmad had six stitches in his head, and was discharged from the hospital.

His cousin who works in the clinic received a bullet injury in his back and was hospitalized.

Mr. Farhan Khan, who owns a plumbing shop next to the clinic tried to help the doctor during the raid. He was shot dead by the attackers. He was 35 years old and had 6 children.

Mr. Mansoor Ahmad’s is the only strong Ahmadi family in Bazid Khail. The attack has not destabilized them, and their moral is high. The local authorities have provided some security to the family by posting a few policemen who have built a bunker in front of Mr. Mansoor’s house.

The locals also protested against this attempt.

Threat to a community office-bearer

Haripur (NWFP): Mr. Zulfiquar Ahmad, the District Amir of Haripur, Hazara received a threatening letter this month. It conveyed that:
You people indulge in anti-Islam activities. This results in people distancing themselves from Islam. If you care for your life, children and property, pay up five million immediately. Close down the Noor Mosque. Stop misguiding the people. This should be undertaken within 10 days. Two of our men Maulvis Mansur and Fazal Jan will wait for you and the money at Camp No.12. If you do not comply, you will be our guest.
After due consultation, the Amir decided to close down the Ahmadiyya Center and shift his residence temporarily.

An un-nerving burial problem

Chak 287/GB, District Toba Tek Singh: Mr. Shah’s Ahmadi daughter-in-law expired on January 5, 2009. He had a grave dug up for her burial in the graveyard that is in common use of locals since 1876. During the night, instigated by some seniors, a few people refilled the empty grave with earth. The next day, the village elders refused to help, so Ahmadis went to the District headquarters where the DCO did not bother to read their application, instead directed them to see the DPO (District Police Officer). When they contacted his office, they were told by the clerk that the DPO was aware of the problem, but was not in a position to help. So the delegation returned to the village and buried the girl in their farm.

A few days later another Ahmadi died in the same village. His wife and children are not Ahmadis. The mulla announced that Ahmadis may not offer his funeral prayers, see the dead man’s face at the occasion of last rites, and participate in his burial. In the evening they conveyed a threat to Ahmadis that they will dig out all the dead Ahmadis from the graveyard. This disturbed Ahmadis greatly. They wrote applications to the authorities. At this the mulla calmed down a bit and directed his flock not to indulge in any disinterment. Some of the locals sympathized with Ahmadis because of this despicable behavior.

No drinking water for residents of Rabwah

Rabwah: The daily Aman, Faisalabad of January 4, 2009 published a story on the plight of residents of Rabwah, and gave the following headlines.
  • The residents of Chenab Nagar are deprived of clean drinking water for the last one month.
  • People are wandering about carrying vessels in search of water.
  • Thirsty children recorded their protest in front of the office of Chief Officer but he did not care. No plumber is appointed in Chenab Nagar.
  • TMA Chiniot has enrolled a plumber and half a dozen staff for water works in Chenab Nagar. The tube-well supervisors are also working in Chiniot instead of Chenab Nagar.
  • Substandard water pipes are now worn out, hundreds of millions (sic) of water is being wasted in the nearby fields and the incompetent technical staff is unable to do repairs.
Blasting out stone continues in the ‘Red Area’ of Rabwah hills

The daily Jang of January 13, 2009 published the following report regarding the digging out of stone from the declared ‘Red Area’ of Chenab Nagar and the consequent plight of the people.
Chenab Nagar (Staff Reporter): Stone blasting continues even after the authorities have declared this area as the ‘Red Area’. Many houses in Muhallah Darul Yuman have been damaged as heavy flying stones struck them as a result of blasting. Walls of many houses collapsed and a number of people lost their lives. Many have been rendered disabled and many a mountain laborers have died. Despite all this, illegal blasting goes on blatantly. It is noteworthy that this digging of stones continues despite declaration of these hills as ‘Red Area’ by the Department of Minerals.

Prejudice beyond limits

An Ahmadi teacher of a private school ‘Qurban High School’ in Lahore died. She was a popular teacher in the school. Her coffin was brought to the school for last respects, and later she was buried with due honour. This reverence rankled with some sectarian teachers. They, assisted by a mulla, told the principal who is also the owner of the school to read out a statement in an assembly of students. This statement contained slander and used abusive language against the Ahmadiyya community and its founder. The Principal refused to comply. At this, some rowdies attacked the school office and damaged its furniture and fittings. Ahmadi teachers and the principal had to be rescued from the trouble spot.

Ulama banned in districts

January 2009: District administrations issued orders imposing ban on entry of specified ulama to their respective districts. This action was taken as a preventive measure to ensure law and order in the districts during the month of Muharram. The listed ulama are generally those fire brands who incite their flock to violence, or they are known to provoke the other sects through slander and even vulgarity. These lists of the banned cleric are published in the daily newspapers. Here we reproduce only the headlines from some newspapers, leaving out the namelists:
36 ulama banned in Jhang
The Nation, Lahore; January 2, 2009
58 Ulema banned in Attock
The Frontier Post; January 1, 2009
Ban on the entry of 8 ulema in Islamabad. Section 144 imposed to avoid terrorist and suicidal attacks
The Aman, Lahore; January 4, 2009
437 Ulama forbidden to enter various districts in the Punjab. 15,000 security personnel posted in Lahore for Muharram duty.
The daily Jang, Lahore; January 6, 2009
Maulana Allah Yar Arshad banned to enter Sindh for one month
The Pakistan, Lahore; January 7, 2009
etc. etc
The last entry deserves comment. Mulla Arshad is posted permanently in Rabwah by his parent organization. His duty is to foment sectarian strife in the town and the area, and he is quite competent in this. The fact that the government of Sindh has decided to keep him out, is indicative of the harm and mischief that this cleric is capable of generating. Rabwah had to tolerate this intruder for years. There is a reliable story that General Zia had given him a chit that the Maulana was his friend and was to be provided all assistance (by concerned officials).

A close reading of these lists of the banned ulama shows that most of these clerics (non-Shias) are those who often come to Rabwah to address anti-Ahmadiyya conferences. It is illogical for the authorities to ban them during Muharram, and facilitate their visit to Rabwah — although their threat and risk to society’s peace is the same. Mullas that are mentioned ‘in dispatches’ are: Muhammad Ahmed Qadri, Masood Azhar, Ali Sher Hyderi, Khadim Hussain Dhalon, Alam Tariq, Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianwi, Akram Toofani, Allah Yar Arshad, Muhammad Ishaq etc.

Agitation in academic institution

Mirpur Khas: There is a Government Elementary College (Men) at Mirpur Khas, Sindh. It appears that sectarian and extremists elements have tightened their grip over this institution. The principal of the college is an Ahmadi. The murder of Dr Abdul Mannan Siddiqui, the president of the District Ahmadiyya Community has provided an opportunity for extreme right-wing teachers to accentuate agitation against Ahmadis. Recently some of these lecturers, apparently guided by leaders of politico-religious parties drafted an application to authorities, and had it signed by the staff members. The application urged the authorities to enforce constitutional and legal provisions against Ahmadis. They have demanded that Ahmadis not use terms like Salam, Insha Allah, Bismillah, etc, and have threatened that, “otherwise…., we can proceed further to safeguard the faith of Muslims”. They have asked for a permanent solution (Mustaqil hal) of the issue.

It is rather fateful that having experienced the impact and consequences of extremists’ policy and practice, the educated section of the society allows itself to be misguided by religious bigots.

From the press

Gunmen kill Ahmadi shop owner in Kotri
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 21, 2009

Four Ahmadi children charged with blasphemy
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 29, 2009

Police arrest another Ahmadi in Layyah blasphemy case
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 31, 2009

Grave scuttled of a Qadiani buried in Muslims’ graveyard
The daily Jinnah, Lahore; January 7, 2009

Mob tries to burn houses of Ahmadis in Layyah. HRCP alarmed over four children detention on blasphemy charges.
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 30, 2009

The United States “should come forward to support the people of Pakistan in their dream of Pakistan a strong and stable democracy, economically vibrant country - where human rights and dignity is respected,” said Ambassador Hussain Haqqani while addressing the reception.
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 22, 2009

Taliban Shariah is terrorism, says DG ISPR

The Daily Times, Lahore; January 23, 2009

Pakistanis as people are the greatest hypocrites in the world. — Dr Israr
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; January 5, 2009

Two Iranians stoned to death for adultery
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 12, 2009

5000 houses in Gaza reduced to rubble
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 20, 2009

To offer the Quaid-i-Azam Award to Richard Boucher is an insult to 160 million people. — Ejaz-ul-Haq (PML-Q)
The daily Aman, Lahore; January 8, 2009

437 ulama forbidden to enter various districts in the Punjab. 15,000 security personnel posted in Lahore for Muharram duty.
The daily Jang, Lahore; January 6, 2009

Maulana Allah Yar Arshad banned to enter Sindh for one month.
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; January 7, 2009

80,000 female students bear brunt of Taliban ban in Swat
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 17, 2009

Taliban did not slaughter us; they only chopped off our ears. The affected volunteer guards
According to the Taliban, a ‘fine’ means chopping off a part of human body.

The daily Jinnah, Lahore; January 15, 2009

The people should boycott American and Western products. They should also prepare for Jihad. — Qazi (Hussain Ahmad)

The daily Pakistan, Lahore; January 12, 2009

Women forbidden to enter the Market (in Mingora)
Photo in the Daily Times, Lahore; January 12, 2009

The ban on Jamaat-ud-Daawa and other charities should be lifted. Demand in Istehkam Pakistan Convention organized by All Pakistan Ahle Hadith Conference
The convention was addressed by Sajid Mir, Abdur Rahman Ludhianwi, Liaquat Baloch, Zubair Zaheer, Zawwar Bahadur, Hameed ud Din Al-Mashriqui, Zahid ur Rashidi etc.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; January 19, 2009

Over 170 schools bombed, burned in Pakistan: — UN

The Daily Times, Lahore; January 22, 2009

Swat – towards a Wahabi state?

Op-ed in The News, Jan 19, 2009

Swat Taliban summon politicians to sharia court.
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 26, 2009

Deployment of army in 23 districts (of the Punjab due to Muharram)
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 5, 2009

The death toll in three days of (sectarian) clashes in Hangu climbed to 43, …
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 12, 2009

Taliban ban entry of women in Swari Bazaar (NWFP)
The Frontier Post; January 1, 2009

Italianization: Beard declared mandatory for men in Swat. Girls’ school and factory destroyed. 11 killed in blast. Beastly conduct prevails. Terrorists hang a corpse on a tree. Two including a prayer-leader killed
The daily Aajkal, Lahore; January 23, 2009

Taliban impose sharia in Hangu (NWFP)
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 3, 2009

Multiple blasts rock Lahore
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 10, 2009

Israel using phosphorus bombs over populated areas. At least 29 Palestinians were killed on the 16th day of a devastating Israeli offensive, taking the death toll to nearly 900 people. “Israel is getting close to achieving the goal it set for itself.” — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his cabinet in Jerusalem.
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 12, 2009

No confidence motion against Sardar Atiq succeeds. Sardar Yaqub is elected the new prime minister of Azad Kashmir.
The daily Khabrain, Lahore; January 7, 2009

NWFP government effective in only one square kilometer. — Siraj ul Haq
The daily Waqt, Lahore; January 22, 2009

Notification issued to form a District at Chiniot
The daily Jang, Lahore; January 27, 2009

Corruption and misappropriation of Rs. 94 billion in public funds. Report by Auditor General of Pakistan, as advertised by the Government of the Punjab in press.
The daily Aajkal; Lahore; December 29, 2008


It is a said that there are three types of Taliban operating in Pakistan. The Afghan plus non-Afghan ‘foreigners’ attached to Al Qaeda; the Pakistani Taliban who are demanding a change in Pakistan’s foreign policy and enforcement of their tough sharia; and criminals who enrich themselves through jihad.
When the state gets into the business of waging ‘deniable’ jihad with the help of ‘nonstate actors,’ it creates multiple centers of power at the cost of its internal sovereignty. These days, an unhinged war in the form of a ‘reverse’ jihad has engulfed Pakistan. And the only reason why it is raging is the waning of the writ of the state and the empowerment of groups who wish to usurp it.
The Daily Times, Lahore; January 13, 2009

Minorities Day
Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani the prime minister held a Christmas dinner in honour of a Christian delegation. He extended to them Christmas greetings and announced that August 11 will be celebrated as the Minorities Day.
The need of the hour is to dream a collective social awaking rather than focus on minority perceptions.
Father A. James Paul in the daily Khabrain of January 24, 2009

Pakistan became a frontline state in the war on terror, but the Pukhtun intelligentsia thinks and this conception is shared by many others as well – that its “assets” had to be guarded as well, and hence Swat was made “haven” for some of them.
It is a pity that government of the day, by relying on the crutches of religion, failed to anticipate the outcome of their flawed approach. Sectarianism was inevitable when obscurantists were appeased and given a free rein to preach violence. The need of the hour is that the government cracks down forcefully on banned religious groups before their violence spills into neighbouring states and others compel us to act.
The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 28, 2009

Swat, o Swat!
People now have their reservations about the operation. They ask pertinent questions about it. They see a lack of willingness on the part of the ‘State’ to curb the militancy. This perception is now held by the intelligentsia, particularly the Pukhtun intelligentsia. They contend that if the state’s military can stand up to a military as strong and large as India’s how can it not handle an internal insurgency carried out by a few thousand armed men?
The daily News, Lahore; January 29, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

'MNA promoting violent protest against Ahmadis'

--- Daily Times, Pakistan

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
‘MNA promoting violent protest against Ahmadis’

LAHORE: A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member of National Assembly from Layyah has instigated the local people to observe a protest today (Tuesday) against four teenagers and a man belonging to the Ahmadiyya community arrested on the charges of blasphemy, a rights body said on Monday. The accused will be brought before a court today. A press release issued on Monday by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) stated that some radical groups had announced a show of strength against Ahmadis to pressurise the court not to grant bail to the five Ahmadis. The accused were arrested on January 28 on charges of writing blasphemous comments in a mosque toilet. They were shifted to Dera Ghazi Khan Central Jail, where the fundamentalist groups had asked other inmates to ‘fix up’ the Ahmadis, according to the statement. The commission urged the Punjab government to stop the violent campaign. staff report


PAKISTAN: Provincial government of Punjab is instigating violence against Ahmedis

--- AHRC, Hong Kong

PAKISTAN: Provincial government of Punjab is instigating violence against Ahmedis
February 16, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Provincial government of Punjab is instigating violence against Ahmedis

In a follow up development of the arrest of four teenagers and a man on blasphemy charge the representative of the Punjab provincial government, Mr. Syed Saqlain Shah, a member of the National Assembly, has instigated the people of the Layyah district, Punjab-Pakistan, to observe a protest day on February 17, the day on which the arrestees will be produced before court at Layyah district. Some Muslim fundamentalists groups have joined the call and announced a show of strength against the Ahmedis to put pressure on the court not to grant bail to the five persons. The teenagers and the man were arrested on the 28th January 2009 from their houses on the charges of writing the name of the last prophet of Islam in the toilet of a mosque, please also see the [earlier statement titled “Four children and one man have been arbitrarily arrested and charged with blasphemy at the request of Muslim radicals”].

Please also see the investigative report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The arrested students and the man were shifted to Dera Ghazi Khan Central Prison, some 160 kilometers from their homes and, despite of not yet being convicted, are being held with hardened criminals. The chances of the teenagers being mistreated are high as it is known that the Muslim groups are asking the jail mates to “fix up” the Ahmedis.

In the area, Chak no. 172, TDA in Layyah district, from where teenagers were arrested, the Muslim fundamentalist groups and members of the National Assembly of the area, belonging to the ruling party of PML-N, have mobilized the people to socially boycott the Ahemadi community. After this announcement the Ahmedis have stayed in the houses and their shops have been locked from outside by some miscreants. Their children have also stopped going to school. The people from the community residing in the 172 TDA village are not allowed to use the roads and have to go to their homes through the fields. Advertisements are published in the local newspapers to have a complete strike on February 26 against the Ahmedis and in support of death penalties to Ahmedis.

The provincial government of PML-N is doing nothing to stop the campaign against Ahmedis which, at any time can be converted in to violence against religious minorities. The province of Punjab is notorious for its religious intolerance which often descends into violence, particularly against the Ahmedis.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Punjab government to stop the violent campaign against Ahmedis and allow the courts of law to function freely and without interferrence. The government should not allow the fundamentalists groups to interfere in the legal process. The government must also guarantee religious freedom to the minorities according to the constitution of Pakistan.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


Indonesian clerics flex political muscles

--- The Star Online, Malaysia

Monday February 16, 2009
Indonesian clerics flex political muscles
By Olivia Rondonuwu

JAKARTA (Reuters) — Parliamentary and presidential elections in Indonesia this year may hinge on how the public reacts to a directive from the country’s top Islamic council that all Muslims must vote or risk going to hell.

The controversial edict from the Indonesian Council of Ulama, which consists of elected clerics and scholars, does not state which parties or candidates voters should choose.

But it may encourage Muslims to vote for Islamist candidates and push the country away from secularism toward a more socially rigid government – not necessarily a plus for foreign investors.

“It’s in the interests of some MUI members to maximise the votes of various Islamic parties,” said Greg Fealy, an expert in Indonesian politics and Islam at the Australian National University.

Indonesia’s plethora of political parties mean relatively small shifts among voters could potentially determine which groups form alliances in the April 9 general election and which field candidates in the presidential election in July.

A recent poll shows reform-minded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party in the lead with 23 percent support, but he may still need to turn to some of the small Islamist parties or his current ally Golkar to form a coalition.

At this stage, 20-30 percent of those polled are still undecided.


Officially secular, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, about 85 percent of its 226 million people.

Most are moderates, but some of the small, hardline groups, which are represented in MUI, have pushed Islamist agendas, undermining Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance and threatening some of its religious and ethnic minorities.

“What is MUI these days, religious body or party?”, said Adhitya Wisena, a Muslim who works at a fish shop in Jakarta.

Under MUI’s influence last year, the government imposed restrictions on an Islamic sect, Ahmadiyya, and pushed ahead with a controversial anti-pornography law that some minorities, including Bali’s Hindus and Papua’s Christians, consider a threat to their art and culture.

Several districts in Indonesia have introduced sharia bylaws, for instance requiring women to wear headscarves regardless of their faith.

Islamists are also likely to have economic nationalist and protectionist views, which despite their own ostensibly liberal tendencies Yudhoyono and his predecessor Megawati Sukarnoputri have already had a tough time resisting.

Set up by former president Suharto in 1975 in an attempt to control political Islam, part of MUI’s role was to endorse government policies such as family planning.

But with Suharto’s ouster in 1998 and a shift towards greater democracy and freedom of expression, MUI has grown in political importance and is increasingly influenced by conservatives and hardliners within its ranks.

“Although MUI says it has representatives from all major Muslim organisations, there is a disproportionate influence by some small conservative, Islamist groups,” said Fealy, the Indonesian expert at Australian National University.

“That partly explains some of the decisions we have seen on Ahmadiyya (and) the anti-porno bill.”

Fealy said MUI’s influence on public policy was likely to grow, as Indonesia’s economy becomes more “Islamicised”, for example with the increasing importance of Islamic financing and the business of certifying food as halal, or allowed, in Islam.

“All the halal certification is managed by MUI and that generates a lot of revenue from companies who want their product certified,” he said.

“Islamic banks, Islamic insurance companies, Islamic pawn shops all have religious scholars advising them and more often than not they are from MUI. In reality, this is very lucrative for them.”


MUI’s fatwa – a legally nonbinding moral decree – requiring all Muslims to vote is not the council’s first attempt to influence an election outcome.

In 1999, MUI ordered Muslims to vote for Muslim candidates, a deliberate strike against Megawati and her PDI-P party, among Indonesia’s most secular and which then had a high proportion of non-Muslim officials.

It has put pressure on the government to pursue pro-Islam policies, and issued fatwas against liberalism and pluralism, and on lifestyle, health and social issues.

At its national fatwa council meeting in January, MUI banned yoga for Muslims if it involved Hindu chants and meditation, and said it was sinful to smoke in public, and for children and pregnant women to smoke.

But it refrained from banning under-age marriage, despite a recent public outcry when a cleric married a 12-year-old girl.

The expanding number of controversial fatwas is of increasing concern for many of Indonesia’s elite, religious minorities, and Muslim moderates.

“The edicts are out of date, pointless, and counterproductive for the interests of the nation,” wrote M. Syafi’i Anwar, executive director of the International Centre for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP) in an opinion piece in the Jakarta Post.

(Additional reporting by Sunanda Creagh)
Copyright © 2008 Reuters


Monday, February 16, 2009

Ahmadi Mosque attacked in Pakistan - Press Release

--- Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful
International Press and Media Desk
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International
22 Deer Park, London, SW19 3TL
Tel / Fax (44) 020 8544 7613 Mobile (44) 077954 90682
16 February 2009


The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat condemns an attack that took place on 11 February 2009 at its Bait-ul-Zikr Mosque in Sialkot, Pakistan. The attack left one Ahmadi Muslim, Mr Bashir Ahmad Salohi injured.

At around 7pm last Wednesday an unknown person or persons threw a hand grenade into the courtyard of the mosque. Fortunately the attack did not occur at prayer times otherwise it could have caused much greater damage.

Police sealed the entrance to the mosque following the attack, however so far no person has been detained with regard the attack. The evidence available suggests that the grenade had been built locally.

Abid Khan, Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat said:
“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat continues to suffer in Pakistan. Ahmadis are unable to practise their religion peacefully and this is yet another example of local extremists attempting to intimidate members of the Jamaat.”

End of Release
Further info: Abid Khan, (44) 07795490682 /

Saturday, February 14, 2009

5 Ahmadis detained without proof of blasphemy: HRCP

--- Daily Times, Pakistan

Friday, February 13, 2009

5 Ahmadis detained without proof of blasphemy: HRCP

* Report says relative of local MNA, elements belonging to banned organisations pushed police to register case
* Commission demands prompt, transparent investigation into matter

Staff Report

LAHORE: The five Ahmadis detained on the charges of blasphemy in Layyah district have been held without any proof or witness, the Human Rights Commission (HRCP) said on Thursday.

The commission, which had sent a fact-finding team to Layyah district last week, said its findings concluded that an investigation, mandated by law prior to the registration of a blasphemy case, had not been held.

The HRCP team learned that a prayer leader in the village had allowed Ahmadi students from a nearby tuition centre to offer prayers in the mosque. The students were later threatened by a government schoolteacher, and they never went to the mosque again, the commission said. About a week later, some villagers claimed finding blasphemous writings in the mosque’s toilet.

The complainant said in the first information report (FIR), “Since these Ahmadis are the only non-Muslims coming to the mosque, therefore they must have committed the offence.” The argument was heard time and again during the HRCP team’s interviews with the mosque administration, some villagers and the local police. The police and villagers conceded that there were no witnesses or evidence of the Ahmadis’ involvement.

Involvement: The HRCP team found that elements belonging to banned extremist organisations, and that a relative of a member of National Assembly (MNA) from the area had pressured the police to register a case. “It is clear that a local politician has also used his influence” to book the Ahmadis, the commission’s report said.

HRCP said the complainant and his ‘extremist’ supporters were adamant that the Ahmadis should be punished on the basis of presumption.

Investigation: The HRCP demanded a prompt and transparent investigation into the matter to ensure that innocent people were not victimised. It also demanded the government ensure that the Ahmadiyya community in the village was not harassed or ostracised. The commission asked the government to take prompt measures to rule out misuse of the blasphemy law. The detailed fact-finding report can be accessed at the HRCP website:


Ahmadis held without any evidence of blasphemy

--- HRCP

Press Releases
Ahmadis held without any evidence of blasphemy

Press Release, February 12, 2009

LAHORE: Five Ahmadis detained on charges of blasphemy in Layyah district have been held without virtually any proof or witnesses, the Human Rights Commission (HRCP) said on Thursday.

The commission, which had sent a fact-finding team to Layyah district last week, said its findings concluded that an investigation, mandated by law prior to the registration of a blasphemy case, was also not held.

The HRCP team learned that a prayer leader in the village had allowed Ahmadi students from a nearby tuition centre to offer prayers in his mosque. The students were later threatened by a government schoolteacher and never went to the mosque again. Around 10 days later, some villagers claimed finding blasphemous writings in the mosque’s toilet.

In the First Information Report (FIR), the complainant said: “Since these Ahmadis are the only non-Muslims coming to the mosque, therefore they must have committed the offence.” The ‘argument’ was heard time and again during the HRCP team’s interviews with the mosque administration, some villagers and the local police.

The police and villagers conceded that there were no witnesses or evidence of the Ahmadis’ involvement. The HRCP team found elements belonging to banned extremist organizations and a relative of the National Assembly member from the area had pressurised the police to register a case. “It is clear that a local politician has also used his influence” to book the Ahmadis, the commission’s report said.

HRCP said the complainant and his extremist supporters are adamant that the Ahmadis should be punished on the basis of presumption.

HRCP has demanded a prompt and transparent investigation into the matter to ensure that innocent people are not victimised. It has also demanded the government must ensure that the Ahmadiyya community in the village is not harassed or ostracized. The Commission has also asked the government to take prompt measures to rule out misuse of the blasphemy law.

The detailed fact-finding report can be accessed at the HRCP website:

Asma Jahangir


Filing of blasphemy charges against 5 Ahmadis in Layyah district - HRCP

Filing of blasphemy charges against 5 Ahmadis in Layyah district

Layyah,2 February 2009


On January 29, 2009, the print and electronic media reported that a case for blasphemy had been registered against five persons of the Ahmadiyya community under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in Kot Sultan police station of Layyah district. A complaint lodged with the police accused five Ahmadis of writing the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the walls of the mosque's toilet in village 172/TDA. The accused named in the First Information Report (FIR) included minor males and matriculation students. All accused subsequently voluntarily appeared before the police and were arrested. The accused denied the allegations vehemently.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) sent a fact-finding mission to Layyah on February 1-2, 2009 to verify the facts. The mission included Mr. Mehboob Ahmad Khan (HRCP legal officer), Mr. Nadeem Anthony (HRCP Council member), Mr. Irfan Barkat (human rights activist), Mr. Munawar Ali Shahid (journalist/HRCP member), Mr. Waqar Gillani (journalist), Mr. Abdul Manan (journalist), Mr. Asif Yaqoob (activist) and Mr. Fareedullah (journalist). During its visit to Layyah, the HRCP team met villagers, members of the Ahmadiyya community and the local administration.

The village

The alleged incident occurred in village 172/TDA, which has a population of approximately 1,000 persons. Most of the villagers belong to the Sunni Barelvi sect and there is only one mosque, Gulzar-e-Madina mosque, in the village, located 40 kilometres northwest of Layyah. The majority of the village population consists of farmers. Around half a dozen families of the Ahmadiyya community reside here.

The accused

Father’s name
Muhammad Irfan
Mukhtar Ahmad
Student of 9th grade
Tahir Imran
Abdul Gaffhar
Student of 10th grade
Tahir Mehmood
Muhammad Aslam
Student of 10th grade
Naseeb Ahmad
Student of 10th grade
Mubashir Ahmad
Muhammad Ramzan

The charges

The FIR — No. 46/09 dated January 28, 2009 – does not mention the date or time when the alleged blasphemous act purportedly took place. The complainant is Mr. Liaquat Ali, a resident of village 172/TDA. The accused are charged under Section 295-C of the PPC.

According to the FIR: “A few days prior to the lodging of the FIR, Mr. Muhammad Safdar - a resident of Chak 173/TDA - saw the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) written in the mosque’s toilet. He told the prayer leader, Qari Muhammad Saeed, about the writing. The prayer leader said he knew about the writing and was probing the matter. The prayer leader scratched the name from the toilet’s walls. Thereafter, an employee of Government High School Chak 172/TDA, Shahbaz Qasim, also saw the writing in the toilet. Qasim told his father Noor Elahi Kaulachi who contacted Union Nazim Syed Ghazanfar Abbas. The nazim asked his secretary Mr. Ehsan to probe the matter. Kaulachi, who is a retired teacher, along with residents of villages 171/TDA, 172/TDA, 173/TDA and 174/TDA contacted Syed Iqbal Shah who made a telephone call to police station in-charge who visited the village. When Hakeem Muhammad Hanif, Safdar Mahr and Shahbaz Qasim tried to probe the incident they learned that four students from the Ahmadiyya community – Mohammad Irfan, Tahir Imran, Tahir Mehmood and Naseeb Ahmed - used to offer prayers in the mosque and used the toilets there. Mubasher Ahmed, another Ahmadi, was also seen offering Friday prayers in the mosque. Shahbaz Qasim stopped the Ahmadis from offering prayers in the mosque, due to which they [the accused] tried to create trouble. We [the complainant and other villagers] suspect since these Ahmadis are the only non-Muslims coming to the mosque, therefore they must have committed the offence.”

On January 29, 2009, the day following the FIR’s registration, some journalists visited the area and others telephoned local residents to learn about the situation.

Mr. Abdul Hameed Bhutta, naib nazim Union Council 172/TDA

Mr. Abdul Hameed Bhutta - naib nazim of Union Council 172/TDA, and president of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Layyah chapter - told the HRCP team that his Union Council was very peaceful and had religious harmony. He said he was not fully aware about the incident but added that the charge must be investigated in an unbiased manner and the culprits punished. However, he emphasized that innocent people should not be made to suffer. He said the person who had instigated action against the Ahmadis had been a member of a banned militant organization, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and later jointed another banned extremist outfit, the Jamaatud Dawa.

Mr. Masood Ahmed, representative of the Ahmadiyya community in Layyah

Mr. Masood Ahmed told the HRCP team that six Ahmadi families have been living in village 172/TDA for over 50 years and had had no dispute or enmity with any other community. Ahmadis have always been helpful towards the local residents. Some years ago, Mr. Noor Elahi Kaulachi asked the Ahmadiyya community for religious literature, which was not given to him. He continued to try and find ways and issues to harass and pressurize the Ahmadis. Kaulachi is a member of a banned extremist organisation. Four Ahmadis who were named in the FIR were students of Superior Academy in the village. The academy’s principal Mr. Niaz Kherani had requested the prayer leader at the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque to allow the Ahmadi students to offer prayers there and the prayer leader had said he would had no objections to that. The Ahmadis offered their prayers in the mosque for less than a week when Qasim Shahbaz stopped them from praying there. This was around 10 days before the blasphemy complaint was lodged with the police. The Ahmadi students did not go to the mosque again. The four students informed the Superior Academy principal that they had been barred from the mosque. The principal forbid them from going to the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque again.

Mr. Kaulachi instigated Mr. Syed Iqbal Shah, a local influential and a relative of the National Assembly member from the area – to register a blasphemy case against Ahmadis. Some Ahmadis also met Syed Iqbal Shah to clarify their position, but Shah preferred to believe the version of the local residents who back his family in the elections. Ahmadis are not even registered as voters. After the registration of the case, the Ahmadiyya community voluntarily handed over all the nominated accused to the police. Mr. Masood Ahmed said that he had met the four Ahmadi students and the fifth accused, Mubashir Ahmad, separately in police lockups. All the students assured Mr. Masood that they had not written the Prophet’s name in the mosque’s toilets nor committed any other crime and said they did not know who was responsible for the writing in the toilet. The students said that their matriculation examination was due to begin on March 4 and requested Mr. Masood to bring them their books to allow them to prepare for the examination. According to Mr. Masood, Mr. Mubashir, the fifth accused, said he was innocent and was worried about the situation.

Saddar police station, Layyah

The accused were transferred from Kot Sultan police station - around 20 kilometers from the village - to Saddar police station in Layyah city. The HRCP team went to the police station and requested permission to talk to the accused, but Station House Officer (SHO) Manzoor Ahmed turned down the request. The SHO met the HRCP team on the road in front of the police station and said he was only responsible for the custody of the accused since it was not his police station’s case.

Dr Muhammad Azam, Layyah district police officer (DPO)

On February 2, 2009, the HRCP team telephoned Layyah DPO Dr Muhammad Azam for an interview. The DPO asked the team to meet him at the office of the National Database and Registration Authority at 11am. The team reached the office at 10:40am and waited for the DPO to arrive until 12:10pm but the DPO did not show up, nor allowed the team access to the accused. Later, he switched off his cell phone. The team again telephoned the DPO at 5pm, when he said that he was preoccupied and could not see the team. The HRCP team felt the DPO was avoiding a meeting with them.

Mr. Khalid Rauf, SHO Kot Sultan police station

The HRCP team met Kot Sultan police station SHO Khalid Rauf to ask him about the case. Mr. Rauf said it is correct that Syed Iqbal Shah (an uncle of local parliamentarian Syed Saqlain Shah from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) contacted him on the phone for the registration of a blasphemy case and asked me to visit the place of occurrence. After Shah’s call, the SHO said he contacted DPO Dr Muhammad Azam who permitted him to register the case. He conceded that the law requires that an inquiry by a superintendent of police (SP) must be conducted about the occurrence before the registration of a case on charges of blasphemy. However, he added that an SP Investigation had not been appointed to the district for over two years, therefore, an investigation prior to the registration of the case could not be conducted. Now, the SP Investigation of Rajanpur district has been assigned to oversee the investigation of the case. SHO Khalid Rauf said he had visited the village and examined the place of occurrence. He said he found no eyewitnesses or any other evidence in the case and the FIR was based on suspicion about the accused. He said he saw reason in the stance of the complainant and the local residents that no Muslim can write the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on a toilet’s walls. When asked if an Ahmadi could do such a thing, he refused to answer.

Qari Muhammad Saeed, prayer leader of Gulzar-e-Madina mosque

The HRCP team subsequently proceeded to the village 172/TDA. As the team talked to Qari Saeed outside the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque, a crowd of over 100 villagers assembled there. Qari Saeed told the HRCP team that some of the villagers using the toilets had previously written obscenities there, at times also abusing the villagers by name. He said he had had the writings erased a number of times. He said that Ahmadi students from Superior Academy had offered their prayers in the mosque for some days, and that the academy’s principal also knew that. When the Ahmadi students were stopped from offering their prayers in the mosque, they never went there again. He said that he did not know the fifth accused, Mubashir Ahmad, and had never seen him in the mosque. He added that nobody knows who wrote the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the toilet walls but the police had not asked him any questions as Shahbaz Qasim had advised him to remain absent from the mosque when the police came to inspect the site. While interviewing Qari Saeed, the team saw a banner at the mosque’s entrance announcing a Khatam-e-Nabuwat (finality of prophethood) Conference to be held in the mosque on 9th February, 2009. Qari Saeed said he did not know anything about the conference and outsiders had put up the banner without the knowledge or permission of the mosque committee. Qari Saeed added that on January 27, 2009, Shahbaz Qasim had forced him to join a press conference on the village road at 11:00pm to mobilize the people from the locality for the registration of a case against members of the Ahmadiyya community.

Haji Abdul Hakeem, vice president Gulzar-e-Madina mosque committee

Haji Abdul Hakeem, vice president of the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque committee, supported Qari Saeed’s statement and added that he was not certain that the Ahmadi students had written the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the toilet walls because no evidence was available in this regard. He said he condemned the action, irrespective of the perpetrator. Haji Hakeem said that individuals from Chowk Azam town had visited the village and put up the banner at the mosque entrance regarding the February 9 conference. He said no one had sought permission from the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque committee — responsible for the mosque’s affairs — for holding the conference there. Meanwhile, some individuals in the crowd angrily disagreed with Haji Abdul Hakeem and shouted that the committee was informed about the holding of the conference, to which Haji Hakeem suddenly said: “Yes. Yes. The mosque committee was informed.”

Mr. Niaz Kherani, principal Superior Academy, village 172/TDA

Mr. Kherani also joined the crowd as the HRCP team talked to the mosque administration. Initially, Mr. Kherani started shouting apparently with a view to disrupt the fact-finding. However, later he agreed to give his version of the events to the HRCP team. He said he runs Superior Academy, a private tuition centre, along with his partner Mr. Asif. Kherani told the team that he did not discriminate on the basis of religion in admitting students to his academy. He said the academy has two sections – one for females and the other for male students. Since there is no toilet in the male section, male students used the toilets of the nearby Gulzar-e-Madina mosque. The Ahmadiyya students offered their prayers in the academy premises but Mr. Niaz said he had recently advised the Ahmadi students to offer their prayers in the mosque. He said the prayer leader of the mosque had permitted that and none of the worshipper had objected to the Ahmadis offering their prayers in the mosque either. Niaz said that around 10 days before the registration of the case, the Ahmadi students told him that Shahbaz Qasim, a teacher in the village’s government high school, stopped them from visiting the mosque. Niaz says that he advised the students not to visit the mosque any more. He added that on January 27, 2009, Shahbaz Qasim organized a press conference on the road of the village where Niaz urged the local residents persons not to lodge a case against the Ahmadi students on alleged blasphemy charges, because no witness or evidence was available against the Ahmadi students. He said he had assured the residents that he knew the students personally and could vouch that they would never do such a thing. He said the Ahmadi and other students often remained at the academy until late nights as they prepared for their annual matriculation examination, due in the first week of March 2009. However, he added that subsequently he became convinced that no Muslim could be disrespectful towards the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), therefore he concluded that non-Muslims (Ahmadis) must have done it.

Niaz conceded that no evidence was available against the Ahmadis named in the FIR and that they were trying their best to identify the perpetrator/s.

Parents of the DEATINED Ahmadi students

Members of the local Ahmadiyya community and parents of the four Ahmadi students in police custody said they are law abiding citizens, but added that they knew they were vulnerable being Ahmadis. They told the HRCP team that Superior Academy was constructed on land owned by two Ahmadis – Aslam Cheema and Sufi Nasir – and Niaz had rented the land and paid Rs 10,000 in advance for the construction and it was understood that this amount would be deducted from the rent. They said Ahmadi children offered their prayers in the mosque close to the academy on the advice of Niaz and following permission from the prayer leader. They added that when Shahbaz Qasim stopped the children from visiting the mosque, they strictly forbid the children from ever going there for fear of any problem for their community. They said they also met Niaz who assured them that he would also make sure that the Ahmadi children did not visit the mosque again. They said that they were thankful to the police and the local administration for preventing anti-Ahmadiyya elements from torching their houses, but added that they still felt vulnerable. They said the Ahmadiyya community was facing a social boycott and shopkeepers in the village refuse to deal with them.

Mrs. Karimaan, wife of accused Mubashir

Mrs. Kareeman, wife of the fifth accused Mubashir Ahmed told the team that her husband was innocent and would never commit blasphemy. Mubashir had never been to the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque. She added that she was stopped from collecting fodder for her cattle from a field her husband had leased.

Concluding observations:

  1. The four Ahmadi students did visit the Gulzar-e-Madina mosque to offer prayers for some days but only after they were advised to do so by their teacher.
  2. The four students never visited the mosque again after a government school teacher stopped them from going there.
  3. No evidence is available against the accused, who were arrested after the case was registered. The police and the villagers concede that there is no witness or evidence of the Ahmadis’ involvement in the alleged blasphemy.
  4. Prior to the arrest of the accused, no investigation was carried out by the SP investigation, as required by the law.
  5. A press conference at late at night on January 27th by the complainant and his supporters, belonging to banned religious organizations, shows that undue influence was exerted by religious and political elements to pressure the police into registering a case.
  6. Almost all the extremists urging action against the Ahmadis are not natives of the village.
  7. The principal of a tuition centre changed his version about the Ahmadi students’ innocence after the registration of the FIR, apparently to protect his business as he continues to use the academy premises, owned by members of the Ahmadiyya community, without paying rent.
  8. The complainant and his extremist supporters are adamant that the Ahmadis should be punished on the basis of presumption.
  9. It is clear a local politician has also used his influence.
  1. An transparent and fair investigation must be carried out as soon as possible in the interest of justice to ensure that innocent people are not victimized.
  2. The media should visit the village, not only to highlight the case but also to educate the people about the abuse of the blasphemy law.
  3. The federal government must act to ensure that laws on the statue books are not abused to harass citizens.
  4. The Punjab government should take notice of this case, which is a clear example of the misuse of blasphemy law, and ensure that measures are taken to ensure justice to the accused.
  5. The government must also take all actions within its powers to ensure that the Ahmadiyya community in the village is not harassed or ostracized.
  6. The Punjab government must instantly appoint an SP Investigation to Layyah district, where the position has been vacant for at least two years.

After four days in police custody, the accused were sent to the judicial lockups of Dera Ghazi Khan district’s prison on February 4, 2009. They continue to be confined there.

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