Friday, August 28, 2009

NCJP’s signature drive against blasphemy laws

---daily Dawn, Pakistan
The Newspaper - National

NCJP’s signature drive against blasphemy laws

By Our Staff Correspondent
Friday, 28 Aug, 2009 | 02:13 AM PST

FAISALABAD, Aug 27: The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has launched a signature campaign for the repeal of blasphemy laws, including sections 295-B, C, 298 A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

NCJP director Nisar Barkat said in 2000, the commission had launched a signature campaign for the restoration of joint electorate in Pakistan and collected around 200,000 signatures from people belonging to different segments of society.

He said the commission had started distribution of the forms designed for the campaign which would be collected till Sep 15 for their onward submission to the quarters concerned.

Quoting from the data collected by the commission, he said from 1986 to August 2009, 964 people were booked under these laws and of them 479 were Muslims, 119 Christians, 340 Ahmadis, 14 Hindus and 10 others. As many as 32 people, he said, had been killed by the mob or individuals after facing blasphemy allegations.

Deploring inaction of successive governments regarding misuse of theses laws, Mr Barkat said their repeal was the only solution to the issue.

He urged the parliament to repeal blasphemy laws since they were a source of promoting religious intolerance and disharmony in society.

Citing recent violent incidents in Gojra as an example, he said they were prompted by abuse of blasphemy laws which justified violence against the accused.

©2009 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No haj for Ahmadiyah followers

---Kompas Cyber Media, Indonesia
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 | 10:44 PM

Image Caption in English:
Sticker containing the confirmation of Non-Ahmadiyah Muslims stuck in people’s homes - Parakansalak, Kabupten Sukabumi - which is not Ahmadi Indonesia (JAI) members. The JAI worry, pasting stickers by strangers could be a provocation.

---The Jakarta Post, Indonesia
National Tue, 08/25/2009 10:22 PM

No haj for Ahmadiyah followers

Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara

Followers of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) claim to have been prevented by local authorities from going on the haj.

The unofficial ban had in place for some time, Ahmadiyah provincial chapter head Jauzi Djafar said.

“NTB provincial administration imposed the ban a long time ago, but not openly. Usually, employees of religious offices at district levels would make things difficult for Ahmadiyah members trying to make arrangements for haj permits,” he said.

Whether or not the government had imposed a ban was irrelevant to Ahmadis in NTB, Jauzi said.

“Even if we were encouraged to go on the haj, our members would definitely have to think very hard about it because where would they get the money for it? We face enough difficulties just putting food on the able, let alone to perform the haj. Perhaps if they were capable financially then they could think about doing the haj,” Jauzi said.

NTB Religious Affairs Office head Suhaimi Ismi denied the existence of a ban.

“There is no law banning Ahmadiyah members from performing the haj. Had the Saudi Arabian government banned them it would be another matter. We certainly did not issue such a ban,” he said Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

13 Militants Arrested in Pakistan

---The New York Times, USA

13 Militants Arrested in Pakistan
Published: August 24, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani police have arrested 13 suspects in two raids that they said foiled several terrorist attacks, security officials said Monday.

Pakistani police officers escorted suspected militants into court in Karachi on Monday.Six men were arrested Monday who belonged to a banned militant group, Sipah-e-Sahaba, and had links with the Taliban militant group linked to Baitullah Mehsud, said Tahir Gujjar, the deputy superintendent of police in Sargodha, a city in northern Punjab Province. Mr. Mehsud is the Taliban leader who is believed to have been killed this month.

The militants who were arrested, Mr. Gujjar said, were planning to attack several places of worship in the Pakistani heartland of Punjab: Shiite mosques, churches and a place of worship of the Ahmadiyya sect, which the government considers not Muslim. The authorities also said the men wanted to blow up broadcast towers of Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company.

Seven other suspects were arrested in the southern port city of Karachi on Sunday. The police, acting on a tip from intelligence sources about an imminent terrorist attack, arrested seven men from the outlawed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, security officials said Monday.

In the Monday arrests, the police, acting on intelligence information, captured three men in a predawn raid at a bus terminal, and under interrogation, they disclosed the location of others, Mr. Gujjar said. One of the arrested, Hafiz Abu Bakar, was the main leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba (Army of the Companions of the Prophet) in a town near Sargodha, he said. Sargodha is the base of two squadrons of Pakistan Air Force F-16s.

Private television news networks broadcast the images of the men arrested Monday. The authorities presented the heavily bearded men to the media, blindfolded and with hands tied behind their backs. A cache of weapons the authorities said had been recovered from them was displayed on a table.

Saud Mirza, a senior Karachi police official, said the raid in Karachi recovered 3 suicide jackets; 4 Kalashnikov automatic rifles; 2 gas masks; 33 pounds of explosives; and about 5 pounds of heroin. Mr. Mirza said the suspects were involved in drug trafficking to finance their activities.

One of the men arrested, Muhammad Shahzad, who is known as Phelavan, or the Wrestler, is believed by Pakistani intelligence to have been a close associate of Amjad Hussain Farooqi, a well-known militant leader involved in an assassination attempt against the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Farooqi, who was killed in a shootout in southern Pakistan in 2004, was implicated in the beheading of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, two years earlier.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian group founded in the mid-1990s with close ties to Al Qaeda, has often singled out Shiite Muslims using suicide attacks. More recently, it has been active in recruiting suicide bombers. A report this month from Jane’s intelligence group called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi “perhaps the country’s most extreme and feared militant group.”

“LeJ members have traditionally assumed new identities and operated in small cells that disperse after completing their missions, making it difficult for the Pakistani authorities to completely eradicate the group,” the Jane’s report said. “However, many of its leaders and members have been killed or jailed in recent years and there is little evidence that it remains a coherent organization with centralized structures.”

In an attack on Monday, gunmen killed an Afghan television journalist and severely wounded another in northwestern Pakistan, The Associated Press reported. Janullah Hashim Zada, who worked for the Afghanistan-based Shamshad TV, was gunned down as he traveled on a public minibus from Torkham in the Khyber tribal region to the northwestern frontier city of Peshawar, The A.P. reported, citing a Khyber Agency official, Omair Khan.

Mark McDonald contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not the business of the state — 2

--- daily DAWN, Pakistan
Not the business of the state — 2
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
Sunday, 23 Aug, 2009 | 09:51 AM PST

Are we not supposed to all be equal citizens with equal rights as decreed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the man who founded and made the country? - Photo by Reuters/FileOn Aug 18, a letter from Citizen of Pakistan Naeem Sadiq of Karachi (naeemsadiq @ was printed in this newspaper of record. The subject was a ‘Request for suo moto notice’ and it was an appeal to the chief justice of the Sindh High Court.

Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority in its application form for the allotment of plots in its DHA City scheme has asked those applying to declare their religion and sect. This, states Naeem, is discriminatory and a violation of our fundamental rights. He contends that the intention of the DHA is to make segregated living zones for those of different religions and to further add to this division on sectarian grounds. The demand is at odds with Islam, the Quran and Sunnah making no mention of any ‘sects.’

As he writes: ‘Unless checked, this practice may soon extend to a declaration of religion and sect for other routing commercial transactions, such as buying a PIA ticket or obtaining a mobile telephone SIM.’ So, he has requested the chief justice of Sindh to ‘take suo moto notice and order the DHA to remove the requirement of religion and sect from its application forms and other related documents’.

Absolutely correct — it is not the business of the DHA to delve into the religion and sect of people wishing to purchase plots which it has advertised for sale.

In similar vein, Citizen Sadiq on July 25, 2009 addressed a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry at Islamabad on the matter of compulsory zakat deductions by the banks of Pakistan, appealing to the Supreme Court in the public interest to take suo moto notice. His letter reads: ‘The Supreme Court of Pakistan in a landmark judgment on March 9, 1999 gave a ruling that members of all ‘fiqhs’ were entitled to exemption from compulsory deduction of zakat, and the federal government had no authority to reject the declaration of any Muslim seeking exemption from zakat, if it was made on a prescribed form. This judgment enables any Muslim to declare his/her ‘fiqh’ and thus seek exemption from compulsory deduction of zakat. De facto, it also recognises the right of individuals to practise their faith according to their own ‘fiqhs,’ and not be dictated by the government’s interpretation.

‘The historic judgment, while so well recognising the right of individuals in matters of their faith, made an irritating mess of how this right was to be practised. Firstly, it requires Muslims to declare their ‘fiqh.’ The great Prophet of Islam (PBUH) did not subscribe to any ‘sect’ or ‘fiqh.’ For his followers to be forced to invent, be branded and be divided by sects and ‘fiqhs’ is therefore an absolutely unethical and undesirable demand on the part of the government.

‘The second irritant relates to the requirement of making this declaration on a prescribed format, thus creating a serious bureaucratic and procedural difficulty for the ordinary citizens. They are required to fill a judicial stamped paper of Rs20 (available for Rs120), have it signed by a notary public and two witnesses before making a completely unnecessary declaration of their ‘fiqh.’ The form is also called CZ-50 affidavit.

‘This anomaly could be easily rectified if the Supreme Court, through a public interest suo moto notice, clarified its original judgment by requiring only those Muslims to give in writing (on a plain piece of paper) who do wish their zakat to be deducted by a bank. This would truly be in keeping with the Supreme Court verdict that all Muslims are entitled to exemption from compulsory deduction of zakat.’

By July 31, Naeem received a letter from the Supreme Court registrar advising him that the chief justice had been pleased to accept the application and ordered that the matter (Suo Moto Case No.12 of 2009) be heard on Aug 10 at Islamabad, and he was required to appear in person.

Two issues were raised at the hearing: (a) that the procedure for exemption from compulsory deduction of zakat was tedious, time-wasting, and cumbersome; and (b) that the state cannot compel its citizens to declare a specific ‘fiqh’ and thus be divided and boxed into one or the other schools of interpretation.

Chief Justice Chaudhry sitting with Justices Jawwad Khawaja and Ijaz Ahmad heard the submission, agreed that it was a pro bono case, and ordered the State Bank and the federation of Pakistan to appear before the court at the next hearing (which is fixed for Oct 5) and explain as to why this procedure cannot be simplified and improved in the light of issues raised by the appellant.

The state of Pakistan is intrusive when it comes to matters of religion. Why? Are we not supposed to all be equal citizens with equal rights as decreed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the man who founded and made the country? According to the original constitution as promulgated at noon on Aug 14, 1973 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, we were equal citizens of the state, with equal rights. But this equality was done away with in 1974 by Bhutto’s second amendment to his constitution, bending to the obscurantists and bigots, and an entire community was shorn of its rights and declared a minority.

Prior to this, in 1979 the same community was targeted by Ziaul Haq, general of the army and president of the republic, pious and God-fearing. He had decreed that all citizens, regardless of their religion, wishing to obtain a passport must sign a declaration that it is his/her belief that the Prophet of Islam is the final prophet and that any pretender that follows him is false.

Such is the business of the state.

©2009 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Saturday, August 22, 2009

KYRGYZSTAN: Property obstacles used to stop registrations

--- Forum 18 News, Oslo, Norway
21 August 2009

KYRGYZSTAN: Property obstacles used to stop registrations

By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

Some religious communities in Kyrgyzstan are facing problems in registering as they cannot get a certificate from the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings, Forum 18 News Service has been told. In some cases religious communities are told that, on the instructions of the State Agency for Religious Affairs, their building must be 1,000 metres [1,090 yards] away from any school building, and 10,000 metres [10,900 yards] away from any mosque. In another case, an organisation was asked to to build an electricity substation to obtain a certificate. Officials have evaded answering Forum 18’s questions about these problems. Problems in registering are also facing religious organisations which are not communities. An example of this is the Bible Society, which is facing demands that it must register as a religious organisation. The Religion Law requires all religious organisations to have no less than 200 members, yet as Valentina An, Chair of the Bible Society, explained to Forum 18 “we have only 3 employees.”

Some religious communities are facing problems in gaining legal registration as they cannot get a required certificate from the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings, Forum 18 News Service has found. Also, religious societies such as the Bible Society, which does not fit the Religion Laws definitions, face problems in registering.

Unregistered religious organisations and communities in Kyrgyzstan are banned under the restrictive new Religion Law. The restrictive Religion Law demands in Article 10.2 that registration applications must include a: “Document confirming the location (legal address) of the religious organisation to be established at the geographic place (a sales-purchase agreement for the premises, a lease agreement, an agreement on providing premises free of charge, an official letter, etc.)” However, several religious communities — who do not wish to be named — have told Forum 18 News Service that they are having problems in establishing that they use a building in order to apply for registration.

Some religious communities are having no problems in establishing that they use a building. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, own the buildings they use for worship. However, Vladimir Gavrilovski told Forum 18 on 21 August that “we used to have problems when we were refused permission to rent public buildings.” Similarly, the Bahai Community “at the moment has no problem” with using their own building, they told Forum 18 on 21 August.

State Agency for Architecture and Buildings certificate needed

However, this is not the case for some other communities. A particular problem is Article 16 of the Religion Law, which states that buildings can be used “in the order established in Kyrgyz law”. This is taken by the State Agency for Religious Affairs (SARA) to mean that the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings must issue a certificate permitting usage of a building.

The SARA and the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings “play mutual protection,” a lawyer from the capital Bishkek, who is helping some religious organisations to register and wishes to remain anonymous, told Forum 18 on 21 August. In a recent case known to the lawyer, when the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings was asked for a certificate establishing that a religious community used a building, the State Agency replied with a letter from the SARA demanding that the building be 1,000 metres [1,090 yards] away from any school building, and 10,000 metres [10,900 yards] away from any mosque. The lawyer claimed that “SARA requires organisations to produce a certificate from the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings, and then asks the same Agency to obstruct the granting of this certificate.”

The lawyer also stated that the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings also asks religious communities and organisations to produce certificates itself from the Water, Natural Gas and Power Supply Administrations, as well as the the Fire Brigade,” the lawyer explained. The Power Supply Administration in one case asked an organisation to build a power substation, the lawyer said. “It’s exceedingly expensive for any organisation to build it, and the officials are trying to use religious organisations to do work for them.”

Forum 18 has been told by several Kyrgyz sources of these demands being made by the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings. Some sources have pointed out that the large number of mosques makes this condition very difficult or impossible to fulfil.

The lawyer from Bishkek said the Religion Law does not regulate whether or not state-owned buildings may be used for religious purposes, but he said that “there is an official instruction to public institutions not to rent their premises for religious purposes.” Private owners, who in the past have rented premises to religious organisations, are “now afraid” to rent them out. “Officials from the SARA and Prosecutor’s Office demand that they have permission from the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings, which in most cases they do not have.”

Officials evade answering questions

Nurlan (who did not give his last name), assistant to Onushbek Tursunbayev, Head of the State Agency for Architecture and Buildings, said that religious organisations only need supplementary documentation from municipal administrations only if they are building a new building. “For buildings which are already in use, we give permission without any supplementary documents,” he told Forum 18 on 21 August. Asked what Law regulated whether or not state-owned buildings may be used for religious purposes, he said he did not know. “For renting privately-owned halls, no permission from us is necessary unless it is a new building,” he said.

Asked if the Power Supply Administration’s demand to build a power substation was lawful, Nurlan replied that “I am a new person in this job, and I do not know.” Similarly he evaded answering if it was lawful for SARA to demand that a religious building be a long distance from a school or mosque.

Yusupjan Kadyrhojayev of the State Agency for Religious Affairs told Forum 18 on 21 August that “we only ask for two documents from religious organisations — one is the contract of purchase or of rent, and the other is permission from the State Agency for Architecture and Buildingss,” Kadyrhojayev of SARA told Forum 18. When Forum 18 started asking about property problems faced by religious communities, he put the phone down.

Unregistered communities of Protestant Christians, Hare Krishna devotees and Ahmadiya Muslims in many parts of Kyrgyzstan have been ordered by the authorities to stop meeting for worship (see F18News 13 August 2009).

Religious societies which are not communities

Problems in registering are also facing religious organisations which are not communities. An example of this is the Bible Society. The Religion Law requires all religious organisations to have no less than 200 members (see F18News 27 May 2009 Yet as Valentina An, the Chair of Kyrgyzstan’s Bible Society, explained to Forum 18 on 19 August: “we have only 3 employees. We don’t understand why we have to register as a religious organisation, as we do not fit the Law’s definition of involving ourselves in religious worship, propagation or education. We only translate and produce Bibles.”

The Bible Society was registered as a branch of the Kazakhstan Bible Society, and previously had to re-register it every year as a foreign mission in Kyrgyzstan.

“The Bible Society is involved in religious activity, because they produce and distribute religious literature. Therefore they must also be registered as religious organisation,” Kadyrhojayev of the State Agency for Religious Affairs told Forum 18. He maintained that “they are not a printing-press, they are religious believers, and are a type of religious organisation. The law is the same for everybody. There are Muslim religious societies too, which face the same requirement,” told Forum 18 on 19 August. He refused to discuss the issue further, or name the Muslim organisations he had in mind.

The Law also imposes severe restrictions on religious literature distribution (see F18News 27 May 2009 It also imposes censorship, stating that “Religious organisations and missions can import religious literature and other printed, audio, and video materials into the Kyrgyz Republic only after passing examination by a state religious expert.”

“At the moment we are continuing our activity, but have been asked by the State Agency for Religious Affairs to bring our activity in compliance with the Law,” An of the Bible Society told Forum 18. “We are uncertain of our future,” she said. (END)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Journalists urged to learn more about religion

--- The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Indonesia
National | Thu, 08/20/2009 10:06 AM

Journalists urged to learn more about religion

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Knowing about religion is essential to understand many major news stories, but media in Indonesia and the United States have mostly failed to grasp the religious context of the news, concluded a book seminar.

“The world is religious and some say it’s getting more religious. The problem is most American journalists are ignorant about religious matters,” said Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, at a book review seminar titled “Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion”, on Wednesday.

Endy Bayuni, the chief editor of The Jakarta Post, said the situation was different in Indonesia.

“Religion has always been important for Indonesian people. Journalists respect religion. However, most editors in Indonesia prefer to avoid religious issues,” Endy said.

Endy added Indonesian media was used to avoiding religious issues since the New Order era. During that era, the government forbade the media from writing about religious issues, especially about the religious dimension of conflicts.

He added most media had been reluctant to write about the harassment of religious minority groups like Ahmadiyah, or church attacks in Indonesia.

Bahtiar Effendy, a political professor at Jakarta Islamic State University, said most writing about religion by Indonesian journalists was shallow.

“Even the leading newspapers do not write with a deep understanding of religious matters, especially about Islam. But, they also do not make big mistakes,” Bahtiar said.

Marshall said there was an increasing demand for information about religious issues.

“In the book titled Blind Spot, the writers argue that in democratic countries, the role of religion in politics is increasing. Democracy is giving the world’s people their voice, and many want to talk about God,” Marshall said.

Marshall warned that taking religion as important part of journalism did not necessarily mean always writing about the religious issue in every story. “The most important thing is a journalist should understand whether the religion factor can help explain the story,” he said.

Marshall gave as an example the importance of religion in the Bali bombing case. “It is important to address that the perpetrators acted based on their version of Islam. Yes, most Indonesians do not believe in the bombers’ version of Islam, but still, Islam was an important factor in the bombers’ beliefs,” he said.

Bahtiar also said religion was an important factor explaining conflicts in political, economic or even legal spheres.

“In Indonesia, most Indonesian [journalists] like to view conflicts as triggered by differences between ethnicities, political stances, or the gaps in the economic situation.”

However, when there is a religious dimension in conflicts, the journalists prefer to overlook it, he added. Bahtiar said many journalists missed the connection between politics, the economy and religion.

“The journalists just have to study more. You cannot expect someone to master religion just because they are writing about religion in limited deadlines,” Marshall said. (mrs)

KYRGYZSTAN: What will new “Coordinating Council on the Struggle Against Religious Extremism” do?

---Forum 18 News, Oslo, Norway
19 August 2009

KYRGYZSTAN: What will new “Coordinating Council on the Struggle Against Religious Extremism” do?

By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

Kyrgyzstan has established a state Coordinating Council on the Struggle against Religious Extremism, Forum 18 News Service notes. The execution of Council decisions will be obligatory for the different parts of the government, but officials are unclear when asked by Forum 18 what they mean by religious extremism and what the Council will do. It will be led by the State Agency for Religious Affairs, the Interior Ministry and the NSS secret police, and will have members from other parts of the government, the Muslim Board, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Civil society and religious organisations have reacted with concern, Raya Kadyrova of the Foundation for Tolerance International pointing out that “unfortunately our laws give a very wide definition of religious radicalism and extremism.” She suggested that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation might be a reason for the Council. The Jehovah’s Witnesses said they needed to wait and see what it would do. They noted that some officials have previously described them as “a destructive movement,” but “hoped” the Council would not listen to such opinions. One Protestant asked why there was a need for the Council, given the other responsible state organisations.

Kyrgyzstan has recently transformed its state Interagency Council on Religious Affairs into a state Coordinating Council on the Struggle against Religious Extremism, Forum 18 News Service has learned. However, although the Council will apparently be powerful, uncertainty surrounds what it will do.

The Decree establishing the Council — signed by Prime Minister Igor Chudinov on 5 August — states that it was established “for the purpose of ensuring concerted action and coordination of activity of State agencies and local governments of Kyrgyzstan in prevention of the spread of and resistance to religious extremism, fundamentalism and conflicts on religious grounds”. The Decree goes on to state that: “Constructive and effective mutual relations between State agencies and religious organisations aimed at efficient solutions of issues related to prevention of the spread of religious extremism, fundamentalism, and conflicts on religious grounds, will allow suppressing the ideas of various extremist and destructive groups.”

Kanybek Osmanaliev, Head of the State Agency for Religious Affairs, told Forum 18 on 18 August that the Secretariat of the Council will be led by himself, the Deputy Interior Minister, and the Deputy Head of the National Security Service (NSS) secret police. The members of the Council will be representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Health, Culture, and Finance, heads of Regional Administrations, as well as representatives from the state-favoured Muslim Board and the Russian Orthodox Church.

It appears that much power will be given to the Council, as the Decree states that Council decisions must be executed by “Ministries, State Committees, administrative units, and other executive authorities, as well as local state administrations and local self-government”.

What issues will the Council address?

“The reason for the decision was to turn the Interagency Council, which was more of an amorphous structure to a more effective one to fight religious extremism,” Osmanaliev of the State Agency for Religious Affairs told Forum 18. “We will meet no less than twice a year and report to the Vice-Prime Minister,” he said. The State Agency will be responsible for preparing the agenda for each meeting. However, Osmanaliev said that he “cannot say what exact issues we will discuss, as we are only in the phase of formulating our policy.” He also did not say what principles would serve as the basis of the Council’s policy.

Father Igor Dronov of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bishkek told Forum 18 on 19 August that he is aware of the new Council, but has not yet accepted the invitation to it. “I cannot say at the moment what issues the Council will be occupied with,” he stated. Reminded that he’d told Forum 18 on 7 August that some Protestant Churches are “aggressive,” Father Dronov said “that’s not religious extremism but aggressive proselytism.” The new Religion Law bans — without defining — “aggressive action aimed at proselytism” (see F18News 13 January 2009 Asked if he would bring these type of issues at the Council, Fr Dronov repeated his previous answer that he did not know what the Council would be doing.

The Muslim Board and Osmanaliev of the State Agency have, along with Fr Dromov, welcomed the restrictive new Religion Law. In a written explanation of the “need” for a new Law — placed on the parliamentary website — Osmanaliev expressed concern about what he described as the “abnormality” of a rising number of people changing faith, especially young ethnic Kyrgyz joining Christian churches. He also complained of “illegal” activity by “various destructive, totalitarian groups and reactionary sects”, among whom he included the Hare Krishna and Mormon communities, and “uncontrolled” building and opening of mosques, churches and other places of worship (see F18News 2 October 2008

Who decided what the Council’s membership is?

Asked why representatives of other religious organisations were not invited as members to the Council, Osmanaliev of the State Agency said the question should be put to the government.

Suyun Musaliyev, who works for the department overseeing religious issues in the Cabinet of Ministers, said that the members from the religious organisations were proposed by the State Agency for Religious Affairs. “If they [the State Agency] would like to propose a representative of Protestants, for instance, they could,” he told Forum 18 on 18 August. “We will make a decision on their proposal.”

What is religious extremism?

Officials were unspecific when asked what they meant by religious extremism, and how the struggle against it would be carried out. “It is the Coordinating Council’s duty to expose destructive and extremist religious movements in the territory of Kyrgyzstan,” Musaliyev of the Cabinet of Ministers responded. Osmanaliev of the State Agency said that “only courts” in Kyrgyzstan can decide which religious movements are extremist. “So far, such decisions have been made on organisations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir” (see for an outline of this group’s views), he stated. “None of the existing and registered organisations are considered as extremists here,” Osmanaliev assured Forum 18. He did not discuss the situation of unregistered organisations, or those whose registration the new Law threatens.

Asked what would happen if names of existing organisations were claimed in Council meetings to have negative effects, Osmanaliev would only said that the Council “would need to make a collective decision” on cases of extremism.

Reactions from civil society and religious communities

Raya Kadyrova, President of the Foundation for Tolerance International in Bishkek, pointed to one possible problem in the Council’s work. She told Forum 18 on 19 August that “unfortunately our laws give a very wide definition of religious radicalism and extremism. For instance, any criticism by independent Muslim organisations of the work of the Muslim Board can easily be interpreted as radicalism and extremism.” She also said that she “hoped the Council will also listen to the opinion of Kyrgyzstan’s so-called minority faiths before making any decisions affecting their activity”

Various religious organisations expressed their concerns to Forum 18 about the Council. A Protestant Pastor, who wanted to remain unnamed, said he does not understand why there needs to be such a Council. “We already have law-enforcement agencies in the country to detect who breaks the laws,” he told Forum 18 on 18 August from Bishkek. The Protestant added that the State Agency is also supposed to work with religious organisations. “I am afraid they are trying to tighten the noose around our necks,” he complained. He said he believed that the Council was created to “make life hard” for the Protestant churches in the country.

Vladimir Gavrilovski of Jehovah’s Witnesses said they needed to wait and see what the Council would do. “It has been re-organised very recently, so we have to wait to see,” he told Forum 18 on 18 August. “Some officials have spoken about us as being a destructive movement in the past,” he noted. “When we explained our position on different issues, they told us that they were given wrong information on us.” He said he “hoped” that the Council would not listen to such opinions.

Synarkul Muraliyeva (Chandra Mukkhi) of the Hare Krishna community said she did not know what the position of the Council on their community would be. “The NSS secret police has told us that we are a totalitarian sect, and are in a list with the banned terrorist organisations.”

Why is the Council being established?

Kadyrova of the Foundation for Tolerance International told Forum 18 that the establishment of the Council was “official recognition that the country’s security is under threat from religious extremism.” She thought that a reason for it’s establishment may be that the authorities “need to determine” what the security threats are. She added that the Council may also have been established “to integrate into national policy a policy adopted at a recent meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).” She noted that “the policy of the CSTO is that special attention needs to be given to religious radicalism and new religious movements, as a threat to security in the region.”

The CSTO, consisting of of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, added some Muslim movements to its list of terrorist and extremist organisations in May 2009. These included Tabligh Jamaat and Salafism (see F18News 15 May 2009, as well as “Nurdzhular” - as it calls followers of the Turkish theologian Said Nursi. Muslims who follow Nursi’s approach to Islam have been attracting increasing state hostility in the former Soviet Union. Increasing numbers of Muslims following his approach have been jailed in Uzbekistan (see eg. 31 July 2009 Translations of many of his writings are banned in Russia, and those thought to possess them have been raided (see F18News 16 July 2009

The Kyrgyz legal background

Since a repressive new Religion Law came into force in January, religious communities of all faiths have experienced increased official hostility. One example of this has been that unregistered communities of Protestant Christians, Hare Krishna devotees and Ahmadiya Muslims in many parts of Kyrgyzstan have been ordered by the authorities to stop meeting for worship (see F18News 13 August 2009).

Officials have claimed to Forum 18 that they have formed a Commission to resolve three controversial provisions of the Religion Law: restrictions on sharing faith and distributing religious literature, and the high threshold of members required before religious communities can register. Separately, a legal challenge to the Law was mounted by Protestants (see F18News 27 May 2009 The Constitutional Court on 24 July dismissed the complaint, in a ruling signed by Judge Chinara Musabekova. She stated that the “concrete constitutional rights of the applicants have not been violated.” (END)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not the business of the state

---daily Dawn, Pakistan
Not the business of the state
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
Sunday, 16 Aug, 2009 | 12:53 AM PST

It has taken a mere 62 years — a blip in the life of many a nation, many an empire — for those who pass for politicians, both civil and military, to nearly dismantle Pakistan. Those of little genius have managed to do so to the best of their ability.

In the large it has been brick by brick, though at times large chunks have been done away with in one fell swoop, and on one occasion, back in 1971, an entire wall was demolished to serve the purposes of power-hungry megalomaniacs.

Given all to which it has been subjected, given the warping and distortions of the national mindset, Pakistan is to be congratulated for not only having survived the machinations of its ruling cliques, but to actually still be standing, albeit in a highly wobbly mode, on its mortgaged feet. For all the wrong reasons, it is now a high-profile country in the comity of nations, renowned all over the world for being what it should not be.

Each Aug 14 the nation is expected to honour the memory of the man who made it, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and to celebrate the being of Pakistan. This year, that was denied in our capital city. From what we have read and seen on our television channels, Islamabad was festooned, not with the national flag, but with the flag of the party in power. Our kings of straw celebrate themselves, not their country and its maker, and they rule over a Pakistan that now has nothing to do with the ideals that gave it birth. However, let us remember the words spoken by Jinnah on Aug 7, 1947 when he landed in Karachi: ‘I never expected to see Pakistan in my lifetime. We must be very grateful to God for what we have achieved.’ One must suppose that we who have survived the 62 years of downgrading must be grateful for what is left to us. But what can one make of a nation many of whose citizens are still debating whether there should ever have been a Pakistan?

Those who quibble over partition should remember that by 1947 Jinnah’s firm and committed conviction was that there was no other possible solution in the face of the end of the empire. For better or for worse, the minority Muslims had to have their own land. A united India could never have worked out.

Days prior to the country’s founding, he urged his people to forget the past, to bury the hatchet, to work together no matter to which community or religious faith they belonged. He told them clearly that a state can progress and thrive only when each man is an equal citizen of the state, with equal obligations, rights and privileges.

He told them that the first duty of any government was the imposition of law and order, he warned against the pernicious subcontinental affliction of bribery and corruption, of nepotism and jobbery, and clearly and emphatically stated that the citizens of his country ‘may belong to any religion, caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state’.

Once he was dead, those who followed swiftly broke faith with him and it took them but six months to betray both Jinnah and the people of his country. They managed to do everything he had warned them not to do, and those that have followed the followers have succeeded beyond Jinnah’s wildest dreams in converting his country to quite the opposite of what he intended and in polluting the minds of its people. It was not to be for better, but unequivocally for worse.

To say that the leadership the country has suffered over its 62 years has been disastrous is but to overstate the obvious. Sadly, it must be admitted, Jinnah had an inkling that he was bequeathing his country to those who would prove unworthy inheritors of his labours (never did he utter the word ‘sacrifice’).

This newspaper of record which informs us on its masthead each day that it was founded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has allowed me to reiterate time and time again words spoken by that great man to his friend, my father Rustom Fakirjee Cowasjee, when one day he remarked, in dismal tone: ‘Mark my words, each successive government of Pakistan will be worse than its predecessor.’ And so it has been — such is our fate.

Though, today, it is difficult to believe that any successor can be much worse than what we now have sitting. But, then, with what we have on the ground which is likely to follow, Jinnah’s prescience might continue to prove to be accurate.

The lethal mixture of state and religion, imposed upon us by the Objectives Resolution of 1949 has ensured that bigotry and intolerance would flourish, that discriminatory laws would be imposed and would be immoveable, that sectarian killings would be a daily occurrence and that the threat of Talibanisation would be a reality with which we must live, though our mighty army has now taken up the fight. The question is, with the deterioration that has set in, can the fight be won?

To end, a quote from an editorial in this newspaper written 20 years ago on the occasion of Jinnah’s birth anniversary: ‘… we have paid ritualistic tribute and homage to the ideals and principles of Mohammad Ali Jinnah without grasping the essence and practical implications of his message and carrying out his behest. All his life he remained a true exponent of liberty and political pluralism and an ardent advocate of the rule of law and a democratic polity….’

arfc @

©2009 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Smokers’ Corner: It’s a shame

---daily Dawn, Pakistan
Smokers’ Corner: It’s a shame
Sunday, 16 Aug, 2009 | 12:55 AM PST

Hardly a week had passed after the shameful attacks on the lives and livelihood of the besieged Christian community of Gojra, that a well-known Islamic televangelist appeared on his show on a local TV channel and freely exhibited the audacity to explain this attack by vicious Islamic sectarian organisations as a conspiracy by the West to make Pakistanis question the contentious Blasphemy Laws.

First of all, as usual, before spouting this claptrap, such TV hosts have absolutely no substantive proofs ever to back their demagogic finger-pointing rituals.

But utmost is the fact that the tongue-wagging gentleman had himself been embroiled last year in a stunning controversy where he was directly accused by his former party, the MQM, and some bold journalists, for initiating and encouraging attacks against Punjab’s Ahmadiyya community through his show.

Thus, what moral right does this highly animated fellow has to even address the issue of the attacks in Gojra, let alone offer bizarre and thoroughly unreasonable theories, pointing fingers at the usually elusive and unsubstantiated conglomerate of conspirators?

His self-righteous and delusional take on the said issue must have come as a hurtful bolt of insensitivity to those who lost their loved ones in the insane fires of fanaticism that almost completely burned down the Christian community in Gojra.

I would also like to question the mainstream TV channel he is a part of; a channel that usually loves to harp about its love for democracy, tolerance and justice, but continues to give wide open spaces to so-called ‘experts’ and ‘Islamic scholars’ who have actually turned religion into a licence to rationalise hate and half-truths.

It was a disgrace watching the same gentleman gleaming and rubbing his hands last year as one of his ‘scholar’ guests lashed out at the Ahmadiyya community, creating a tragic commotion against the community in Lahore.

The host showed not even the slightest indication of expressing any kind of remorse, and neither did the channel even when certain leading newspapers ran stories, editorials and articles on the event.

Next up was his even more bizarre reaction to the Swat girl’s flogging episode. He first condemned the event, mainly because his channel was one of the first ones to break the horrifying news.

However soon, the host suddenly took a sharp turn and started hurling abuse at the supposed ‘agents’ of the West and India, who he claimed were behind the flogging ‘drama,’ and also mocked liberal Pakistanis for exaggerating the issue.

He called such Pakistanis ‘enlightened’ with such venom and sarcasm that it seemed he was rooting for obscurantist darkness over spiritual and secular enlightenment.

After all, the whole notion of obscurantism is tailor-made for exactly such characters who hide behind their televised celebratory status, constructed from unsubstantiated accusations, a warped understanding of religion and politics, and more so, a smug and arrogant insensitivity towards the emotionally venerable sides of human nature.

The truth is, such men, who are these days a dime a dozen on the mainstream electronic media for entirely cynical economic reasons on the part of the channels who hire them in their mad race for ratings, have been of no service at all to the religion and the country that they claim they are there to save from supposed ‘anti-Islam/Pakistan forces.’

Not even once have these elusive forces convincingly been exposed — at least never through any academically and journalistically sound proofs and sources, but instead rhetorical hate speeches or a messy jumbling up of bits and pieces taken from populist conspiracy theories found in anarchic pulp literature, unsubstantiated cyber rants, and low-budget B-movie ‘documentaries’ are used to build fiery narratives that claim to offer ‘facts’ and ‘expose’ the workings of the forces that are creating sectarian, religious and political turmoil in Pakistan.

The fact that the channel actually decided to give its host the space and freedom to comment the way he did on the Gojra incident when the scars of the event were still fresh and bleeding, shows just how obsessive we become to at once promote and propagate half-truths just to defend and obscure the hollowness of that pretence of tolerance and equality we all love to portray.

A shame indeed.

©2009 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Minorities’ right to liberty

---daily Dawn, Pakistan
Minorities’ right to liberty
Anwar syed
Sunday, 16 Aug, 2009 | 10:27 AM PST |

A group of Muslims, professedly incensed and enraged over the alleged desecration of the Quran, killed seven Christians in Gojra in Punjab. The allegation may not have been valid.

It is possible that the victims and their killers had been involved in a local quarrel. It is also possible that the victims were targeted simply because they were non-Muslim. The following presentation is based on this latter premise.

The killings have been widely condemned. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif went to Gojra to condole with the victims’ families, and each announced an award of Rs100m as compensation to them. Mr Gilani also announced his government’s resolve to apprehend and prosecute the killers. This was a laudable response on his part, and we hope it does not turn out to be one of those promises that are lightly made and then forgotten.

This was not the first incident of its kind in the country’s recent experience. Hindu, Christian and Ahmadi communities and neighbourhoods in Sindh and Punjab have been attacked, persons killed, homes and businesses plundered and places of worship destroyed. These deeds were barbaric and so were their doers.

It takes a measure of intellectual sophistication and civility to value diversity and respect those who think differently from others. These attitudes of mind are cultivated in a democratic culture, which settles issues through discussion, debate and a process of give-and-take (compromise). This mode of arriving at decisions does not admit of absolutes. It requires admission of a degree of tentativeness in one’s own position, willingness to concede that the opponent has to be heard, for his argument may have some merit.

Granting exceptions, it may be said that absolute firmness of belief in the validity of a set of propositions, and tolerance of those who do not subscribe to them, do not go together. Indeed, they are mutually exclusive.

Intense believers in their professed faith have fought others in numerous times and places. Protestants and Catholics, and within the Protestant Church Anglicans and Presbyterians, persecuted, even killed, one another for more than 100 years in Ireland and Scotland respectively.

The same kind of conflicts took place in France, Germany, Switzerland and Massachusetts. In India orthodox caste Hindus have traditionally humiliated certain lower caste groups as untouchables. They have also been persecuting their Muslim citizens.

Islam enjoins tolerance of the non-believer. ‘Moderate’ Muslims are indeed tolerant of views other than their own. But there are, and have been, others who hold that those who disagree with them are not real Muslims, and that they deserve to be placed beyond the pale of Islam, if not eliminated. At the present time, the Taliban are the foremost of such groups.

Where in the configuration described above do we place the frenzied Muslims in Gojra who killed some of its Christian residents? It is most likely that they were intellectually unsophisticated, at best semi-literate, basically uncouth and uncivil.

Next, they were intense believers in the sanctity of their faith. The allegation that the Christians had desecrated the Quran may have been invalid but, if so, that fact was probably not known to most of them. They did, however, allow themselves to get into a rage without looking into the allegation. That may have happened because the accused were poor Christians.

Muslims constitute nearly 97 per cent of this country’s population. The remaining three per cent consist of Christians, Hindus and a sprinkling of Sikhs and Zoroastrians. Certain individuals from among them became renowned for their attainments. Justice A.R. Cornelius, chief justice of Pakistan, was one of the most learned, profound and eloquent jurists that ever worked in Pakistan. Justice Bhagwandas, a former judge of the Supreme Court, is another such luminary. Some of the more wealthy Zoroastrians have given large sums of money for the establishment and maintenance of educational institutions, hospitals and other charities.

The minority people are loyal citizens of Pakistan as much as the Muslims may be. They pose no threat to its security and well-being. Nor do they pose a threat to the well-being of their neighbours. They are not numerous or strong enough even to influence public policy (as for instance the Jews are in America). Why would then any group of Muslims want to persecute, harass, terrorise or kill them?

In most such cases they are accused of having committed blasphemy, such as insulting the Prophet (PBUH) or desecrating the Quran. The accusation is often unfounded. It is possible also that the alleged act, if it did happen, was accidental and unintended. The blasphemy law should be repealed because it is a bad law, but false accusations against minority persons will continue to be made, for the motivation behind them has nothing to do with the law’s susceptibility to abuse.

One reason why minority groups are harassed may be that they are weak, and weakness invites aggression. They can easily be driven from their homes and whatever little land they may have, which their tormentors can then appropriate. If some of them have defied any of the tough guys in the area, they will be punished for their self-assertion. The greater likelihood is that their oppressors are acting simply from perversity, viciousness and meanness of spirit of which they happen to have more than their share.

What is then to be done? I believe that governments and political leaders at all levels, particularly the Islamic parties, must do all they can to persuade the imams and khateebs in our mosques to tell their audiences that it is their Islamic duty to protect the non-Muslim minorities in this country.

The writer is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts. anwarsyed @

©2009 DAWN Media Group. All rights reserved

Kyrgyz police prevents faithful from meeting in private home to pray

---Asia News, Italy

» 08/17/2009 14:41
Kyrgyz police prevents faithful from meeting in private home to pray
Many Protestant groups but also others are denied on technicalities the necessary permit to engage in activities. Protestant groups complain about systematic discrimination.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/F18) — Kyrgyz authorities are preventing believers from unauthorised groups to meet, even if only to pray. The Forum 18 news agency has reported that many Protestant groups are being denied the right to register on legal technicalities. Kyrgyzstan’s new Religion Law, which came into effect in January 2009, imposes in effect great hurdles for groups that seek official recognition without which the faithful cannot even meet to pray and celebrate Mass.

Application for recognition requires at least a membership of 200 people willing to sign up. But religious groups complain that it is very difficult to get that many signatures if they are not allowed to organise any activities or advertise their faith to recruit new members. Intimidations against the faithful are not helpful, either.

The Protestant Church of Jesus Christ was able for instance to register in Bishkek, but for the authorities that does not apply to Talas. For this reason they banned the group from meeting in a rented cinema in that city. When the members of the congregation began meeting in a private apartment, the owner was summoned and interrogated repeatedly.

In Talas the Church failed to get 200 members to sign up because many faithful are reticent to do so, afraid that they might be subject to controls and retaliation.

In Kochkor district (Naryn) Prosecutor T. Kasymbekov issued a warning against Bakhyt Mukashev, the pastor at El-Shaddai Protestant Church, to stop meeting for worship in his private home.

The clergyman, who has been repeatedly summoned and interrogated with his wife, has argued that his church is a branch of the El-Shaddai Church registered in Bishkek. But he too was told that such a registration does not apply to other places.

All religious groups are affected by the repression. In Bishkek Hare Krishna are systematically persecuted. Their demand for registration has been rejected and they cannot advertise, and so they have bee prevented from getting the 200 members necessary for registration.

Islamic groups are also affected by persecution. In Bishkek the Ahmadiya community has been registered as a “foreign mission” even though most members are Kyrgyz.

This means that anything the Ahmadiya do requires special permits, as if they were foreign missionaries. Without authorisation they cannot be involved in any religious activity.


KYRGYZSTAN: “Don’t meet for worship”

---Forum 18 News, Oslo, Norway
13 August 2009
KYRGYZSTAN: “Don’t meet for worship”

By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

Unregistered communities of Protestant Christians, Hare Krishna devotees and Ahmadiya Muslims in many parts of Kyrgyzstan have been ordered by the authorities to stop meeting for worship, Forum 18 News Service has found. In some cases, communities have been told that state registration in the capital Bishkek does not allow religious activity elsewhere. One Protestant church in the north-west told Forum 18 that they had been unsuccessfully trying for two years to register, but that they “would not be registered unless they had 200 signatures. How can we collect 200 signatures if we are not allowed to function normally?” Asked what would happen to religious communities who have less than 200 members, and so cannot be registered, an official of the State Agency for Religious Affairs told Forum 18 that “there is a Law, and we will deal with them accordingly.” An employee of the State Agency recently told a person known to Forum 18, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state reprisals, that after the July presidential elections there would be “a massive campaign against religious groups meeting illegally.”

Kyrgyzstan is continuing a crackdown on people exercising their freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service has found. Communities of Protestant Christians, Hare Krishna devotees and Ahmadiya Muslims have all been ordered by the authorities to stop meeting for worship, in some cases the orders having been originally issued in 2007.

Since the entry into force of Kyrgyzstan’s new Religion Law in January 2009, officials of the Prosecutor’s Office, Police, National Security Service secret police, local Executive Authorities and the State Agency for Religious Affairs have checked up on or raided many religious communities. One such community was the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Maili-Suu, whose members were told that “they have no rights to distribute or to keep any religious literature at their homes” (see F18 News 28 May 2009

An employee of the State Agency for Religious Affairs recently told a person known to Forum 18, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state reprisals, that after the July presidential elections there would be “a massive campaign against religious groups meeting illegally.” President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who has been in power since 2005, was officially announced as having won these elections. Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers noted that electoral fraud and intimidation of the opposition “contributed to an atmosphere of distrust and undermined public confidence in holding genuinely democratic elections.”

Crackdown on unregistered worship outside Bishkek

One of the many controversial aspects of the Religion Law is the ban on unregistered religious activity (see F18News 27 May 2009 The authorities in the north-western city of Talas in April told the leader of the Protestant Church of Jesus Christ to stop meeting for worship in his private flat, a church member wished to remain unnamed told Forum 18 on 12 August.

The Church was registered in the capital Bishkek, and its members in Talas met in a rented cinema for worship until January. In that month, the authorities claimed that registration in Bishkek did not cover public worship in Talas and stopped the Church using the cinema. When the worship meetings were moved to the leader’s flat, police summoned the leader for questioning in March and April.

“Our church in Talas has tried to register with the regional Justice Department for two years without success,” the church member told Forum 18. “The last time they tried, they were told they would not be registered unless they had 200 signatures. How can we collect 200 signatures if we are not allowed to function normally?”

As a Baha’i pointed out to Forum 18, as well as the threshold of 200 founders very high, many people are reluctant to sign registration applications as they distrust the authorities (see F18News 6 November 2008

At the Talas regional Justice Department, the Secretary (she did not give her name) of Department Head M. Karmyshakov said neither he nor anyone else was available to talk. “Most of the responsible officials are either out of office for a few days, or on holiday,” she told Forum 18 on 13 August.

In the central Naryn Region, Prosecutor T. Kasymbekov of Kochkor District in March issued a warning letter to Bakhyt Mukashev, Pastor of El-Shaddai Protestant Church, to stop meetings for worship in his private home. A church member who wished to remain unnamed told Forum 18 on 13 August that Pastor Mukhashev and his wife were then summoned the Prosecutor’s office and questioned. Other state agencies summoned some church members for questioning and compelled them to write statements on their activities. They were then warned not to meet in Mukashev’s home.

The Church showed the authorities a certificate that they were a branch of the registered El-Shaddai Protestant Church in Bishkek. But as in Talas, the authorities in Kochkor claimed that registration in Bishkek does not apply elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan.

Forum 18 attempted on 13 August to reach officials at Kochkor District Prosecutor’s Office to discuss the case. The Naryn Regional Prosecutor’s Office assured Forum 18 that officials in Kochkor would answer calls, but no official in Kochkor answered their telephone that day.

Crackdown on unregistered worship in Bishkek

Synarkul Muraliyeva (Chandra Mukkhi) of Bishkek’s unregistered Hare Krishna community also complained that they are not able to meet publicly. In 2008 “a few of us [Hare Krishna devotees] were taken to the National Security Service (NSS) secret police headquarters in Bishkek,” she told Forum 18 in Bishkek on 7 August. “An NSS lieutenant colonel compelled us to sign a paper saying that we would not meet publicly for worship.” Muralieva said the NSS secret police told the devotees that “they acted on complaints from neighbours” of their community building, where they used to hold worship meetings. She also told Forum 18 that a former official of the State Agency for Religious Affairs told her in 2007 that “someone from higher up” had stated: “Do not even dare to register them!”

When asked why the Hare Krishna Community in Bishkek, the only in the country, has not so far been registered, Kumar Dushenbayev of the State Agency responded on 6 August in Bishkek that “they have an internal problem they cannot solve.” He added that “we met them a year ago and told them to correct certain things in their charter. But they did not come back.”

Muraliyeva agreed that the Community has an internal property problem, but insisted that “our main problem is that we have been refused registration and cannot meet publicly,” she emphasized.

Other religious communities Forum 18 knows of throughout Kyrgyzstan face the same problems of being unable to worship publicly. A Protestant church leader from Bishkek, for example, told Forum 18 on 13 August that his church too is also in an “illegal” situation. “There are very many home churches like ours,” he continued. He predicted that “some groups will either go underground trying to hide”, and others will “unite with other groups, despite confessional differences, to gain legal status.”

Crackdown on “foreign mission”

The Ahmadiya Muslim Community has been registered in Bishkek as a “foreign mission”. This “creates certain problems”, Ahmad Basharat of the community told Forum 18 on 12 August. “As a foreign mission it is harder to register communities outside Bishkek,” he emphasised. Also, because of the new Law, “it will be difficult to get missionary visas” for leaders from Pakistan, Bahsarat added. “The members of our community are predominantly Kyrgyz,” he noted. “Between 150 and 180 local people attend our Friday prayers in Bishkek.”

Elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan - in Osh in the south-west, Karakol in the north-east, and Issyk-Kul [Ysyk-Kol] in the centre — Ahmadiya Muslims were in 2007 “asked to stop from meeting publicly for worship by local authorities,” Basharat told Forum 18. “Our activity in those regions was not registered, but we rented places and met freely. We were told we could not continue as a foreign mission without official registration.” Bahsarat said the Ahmadiya’s then tried to register as local communities, but were told by local authorities to wait as a Religion Law was being introduced. “We submitted documents then, and are still waiting,” he said.

Asked why Ahmadiya communities cannot register as local communities, Dushenbayev of the State Agency told Forum 18 that “we will register them if they submit documents in compliance with the Law.”

“There is a Law, and we will deal with them accordingly”

Asked by Forum 18 what would happen to religious communities who have less than 200 members, and so cannot be registered, Dushenbayev of the State Agency asked: “Why should religious communities such as the Presbyterians try to open a branch in every corner of the country? Why can’t they come together in one place, where they would not have a problem gathering 200 people?” When Forum 18 repeated the question, he said that “we will not fight with them. There is a Law, and we will deal with them accordingly.”

Asked whether he thought the Law placed many restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in Kyrgyzstan, Dushenbayev said the question “should be asked of the Parliament, which adopted it.” However, he quickly added that “the Law is at the moment being worked on” by a group of experts. Regulations to implement the law “were not in place yet,” Dushenbayev said, “and another group is working them out.” Without giving an exact date, Dushenbayev told Forum 18 that both groups “should finalise their work in the autumn.”

Officials have previously claimed to Forum 18 that only after three controversial elements of the Law — on restrictions on sharing faith, distributing literature and on the high threshold of 200 adult citizen members required — have been resolved will regulations enacting the Law be produced (see F18News 27 May 2009 (END)


Pakistan committed to ensure equal rights to minorities: Zardari

--- AAJ TV, Pakistan
Tuesday, 11 Aug, 2009 1:06 am

Pakistan committed to ensure equal rights to minorities: Zardari

ISLAMABAD : President Asif Ali Zardari has said Pakistan stands committed to ensure equal rights to all minorities, as enshrined in the Constitution, and all measures will be taken for their complete freedom and security.

In a message on the ‘Minorities Day’, President Asif Ali Zardari said “Minorities are a sacred trust for Pakistan,” and pointed that father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah made this solemn pledge at the time of creation of Pakistan in categorical and unequivocal terms.

Quaid-e-Azam also made it clear that the policy of equality, freedom and security for all communities shall be ensured.

The President said, the constitution, through various provisions lays down that the minorities can freely profess and practice their religious and culture and envisages to safeguard their legitimate interests for which the People’s government stands fully committed.

He said the government has made necessary institutional arrangements, which guarantees safeguards for political participation and welfare of the Minorities.

President Zardari said the present government has taken a historical step of reservation of 0.5 percent quota in government jobs and services for minorities which will ensure their due representation at all level.

He said the government is making all-out efforts to impart sense of equal citizenship so far as fundamental rights, safety, security, honour, life, liberty and properties of the minorities are concerned.

“Unfortunately, some extremist elements with a view to advancing their own narrow and bigoted agenda have targeted the minorities, as happened recently to members of the Christian Minority in Gojra,” President Zardari said. The government is committed to foil the designs of these extremist elements, he added.

He said, August 11 was being observed to reaffirm solidarity with the minorities. The day coincides with the vision of the great leader of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who on this day in his historic speech laid down the foundations of a modern, tolerant and progressive Pakistan where every one will have rights regardless of creed, caste and gender.

The President said, the government stands committed to ensure equal rights for all minority communities as enshrined in the constitution and the UN declaration of Human Rights.

“The minorities’ day is an opportunity that reminds us to reaffirm our solidarity and to work hard for the betterment of humanity and for a prosperous Pakistan”, he observed and added that “let us on this day dedicate ourselves to continue our journey along this road”.

© APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Official Blasphemy by Pakistani Authorities - Video

Pakistani authorities removed Kalima and Names of Allah from Ahmadiyya Mosque in Lathianwala near Faisalabad, Punjab. Approximately 300 Policemen and Elite Force commandos raided houses and Mosque belonging to Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on 10th August, 2009 to commmit the shameless act of Official Blasphemy having “NO FEAR” of Allah, the Almighty. In Pakistan, this dreadful act, if committed by any individual or group, is punishable under section PPC 295, PPC 295A, PPC 295C, carrying imprisonment from 2-10 years with fine and even death. Only a mere accusation of blasphemy is enough to get someone killed/burnt alive by mobs like it happened in Gojra.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monthly Newsreport - Ahmadiyya Persecution in Pakistan - July, 2009

Targeted killing of another Ahmadi for his faith

Multan; August 6, 2009: Rana Ata-ul-Karim fell to assassins’ bullets at his home on August 6, 2009 at about 10 a.m. He was 36. He left behind his widow, a son aged 9 and two daughters 4 and 3 years old.

Rana Karim was a well-known Ahmadi in the neighborhood. He had a master’s degree in agriculture and was in the business of production and distribution of poultry feeds and medicines. In the preceding few days unknown persons were seen moving around his residence in a mysterious way. He became careful and took some precautions. On the day of the incident when he went out, three armed men entered his house, shut his family in one room, and waited for his return. His wife pleaded the intruders to take away whatever they wanted, but they took nothing except life. As soon as Rana Karim entered his home, they fired at him. He was hit thrice. One bullet hit his neck and damaged his windpipe, the other hit close to his ear while the third hit low and damaged his kidney. He died on the spot.

Multan is headquarters of an anti-Ahmadi organization. Extremist elements are well-known to the police. An Ahmadi couple was killed there only four months ago. This is the seventh incident of murder of Ahmadis in Pakistan for faith since January this year. The Ahmadiyya press-release on this incident stated:

Murderous attacks on Ahmadis take place as a result of deliberate plans of religious anarchists. They are the prime-movers of sectarian extremism. One hundred and two Ahmadis have been murdered for their faith since the promulgation of Ahmadi-specific law of 1984 External Link - Opens new browser window. No action is taken by authorities despite our repeated reminders to the government. Consequently, such incidents keep on recurring, and are on the rise. … If the government pays no attention to such faith-based murders, it is citizens who (eventually) suffer the consequences.

The Ahmadiyya spokesman requested higher authorities to take notice and take immediate action.

A heart rending story - innocent Ahmadi tortured by state agencies

This story is a personal account of an innocent man who suffered torture at the hands of state agents. The inflicted torture was the cutting edge of a joint effort by corrupt clerics, inefficient police, mindless administration, sadistic agencies and heartless politicians. It is a tale of suffering of Mr. Rashid Iqbal, an Ahmadi resident of Kunri, District Mirpur Khas, Sindh. There is some background to this incident, which deserves a brief mention at the beginning.

Kunri has been a hotbed of anti-Ahmadiyya agitation for some time. Ahmadis kept the administration and the police informed of the situation. However, the political leadership in Pakistan handles the mulla with great tenderness, regardless of consequences. The district authorities therefore echo that sentiment and approach, and ordinarily support the clergy or neglect and disregard their criminal activities. This attitude prevails at Kunri.

Here the mullas have a dispute with local Ahmadis over a plot and construction of a mosque over it. Ahmadis had approached the authorities for justice; this was not acceptable to the mullas. They conspired to implicate Ahmadis in a fabricated case of blasphemy. In September last year, they accused Rana Khalil Ahmad of writing an objectionable letter to a mulla, and accused Mr. Rashid Iqbal of writing something blasphemous on a road track. The police blithely booked the two under the dreaded blasphemy law PPC 295-C, PPC 295-A and the anti-terrorism law ATA-9. The cases received no serious investigation by any senior police officer as required by the rules. The two men who were bread-winners of their families were arrested and were exposed to awful consequences of these false incriminations.

This story is of Mr. Rahsid Iqbal who is 34 years old, married and has two children, 5 and 3 years old. He also supports his father who is over 85.

In order to cut it short, we mention below only essential details as narrated by Mr. Iqbal - in his words translated in English.

“On December 4, 2008 I was waiting at the railway station Hyderabad to board a train for Faisalabad. At about 13:30 three men in plain clothes approached me and my nephew who was with me, told me that they belonged to agencies and took us both to a four-wheel drive outside the station. They pushed us inside the vehicle, blindfolded us and handcuffed us behind the back. They took my mobile phone, three SIM cards, Rs. 950 in cash, a bottle of perfume, and a tin of talcum powder. After about 20 minutes’ drive they arrived at a location unknown to me. There, they noted down my particulars and put me in shackles. … After some time I requested for some relief, told them that I was innocent, and pleaded that they take off the band over my eyes and place the handcuffs in front rather than my back which is very hurtful. … I offered them to let me free on promise to make myself available in the court, and offered them Rs. 20,000 for this favour. They, however, responded that this money was too little. “Raise it to five lacs (500,000) and we will drop you wherever you like,” they said. However, no money was given or taken. … I noticed a plaque in the room on which MI 4 was written. They asked me about the exact nature of our religious beliefs, to which I replied that there was hardly any difference; you people are awaiting the advent of a Mahdi, while we believe that the advent has already taken place. … After the meal, they blindfolded me again. At about 8 p.m. they uncovered my eyes, opened the handcuffs and the shackles. I told them again that I was entirely innocent and knew nothing of the alleged blasphemy or the ‘sketches’. …However they sent for the electric-shock machine and subjected me to shocks. Then they turned me naked and beat me up with a leather whip. They insisted that I admit to acting jointly with two others in committing the blasphemy. I kept on reciting the Kalima (the Islamic creed) till I went unconscious under torture. When I recovered they got themselves a belt used in thresher machines and hit me with it repeatedly. “This ugly looking man (manhus shakal wala) is a member of a fighter organization; he is not going to admit without (this treatment),” one of them said. I told them that I am only an ordinary citizen who makes a living by grinding spices and supplying to the retailers in the town. However, they inflicted me still more electric shocks and slapped me repeatedly. They did the same to my nephew (who was not even an accused in the fabricated FIR). He told them that the issue was nothing except the community plot over which Ayub and his colleagues (the accusers) had got Ahmadis implicated in this false case. Thereafter they blindfolded me again. I was then driven elsewhere and delivered to some other group after two or three hours’ drive.

“I was now finding it very difficult to walk, after the torture. They took me to a room where they opened the handcuffs and took off the band over my eyes. They turned me naked and made me lie down on the floor. One of those tormentors sat astride me and clasped my head in between his knees, while two others took positions on my left and right. They hit me repeatedly on my back and calves of my legs. I went unconscious with pain, and they brought me back to consciousness by a drink and some pills; and then hit me again and again. They said, ‘We are ISI men; we have come all the way from Islamabad; admit your crime.” They were accusing me and some other Ahmadis to having turned to blasphemy in order to precipitate a Hindu-Muslim riot. It was all Greek to me; so I denied that. Then they turned vicious. They introduced chilies in my anus. They opened my two legs and one of them sat on my neck and threatened me with loss of manhood (na mard). I told them again of my innocence, and finally asked them in desperation to shoot me dead. They took me out of the room and fired a shot close to my ear. In fact at that stage I could no longer bear the hurt of the torture of ‘opening the legs’, so I agreed to own up all the false accusations. I was made to sign a number of blank sheets, put my thumb and finger prints on them, admitted to planning a ‘Hindu-Muslim riot’, paying Rs. 5000/- to Sultan Chandio for drawing the ‘sketches’ in the presence of Khalid at his shop, threatened Sultan with death for non-compliance, writing blasphemy on the road track etc - all rubbish, of course. They urged me to implicate Ahmadiyya leadership in providing the Rs. 5000, and mention Nasir Wahla and Majeed Zahid (local Community leaders), but I refused to do that. They wanted me to state that Tariq Mota and Nasir Wahla (Ahmadis) had telephoned me to write that writing, and the taxi on which we went to Umar Kot to post the letter (allegedly written by Rana Khalil) belonged to Zahid son of Habib.

“Then they presented me blindfolded to their officer. He interrogated me further. He asked me, “How much are you paid monthly by your community?” “It is we who subscribe regularly to the community; we do not receive money from our Jamaat”, I told him. He had my eye-band removed, and then made a movie. They took some still shots, too. Then I was blindfolded again, was handcuffed in front and driven to a lock-up somewhere. There, I enquired about the time. It was 11 p.m. on 5 December 2008. It was a police station. An A.S.I. provided me with some food and pain-relieving pills. The next day this inspector said to me, “Look here, I have not slapped you even once. All I want from you is to tell the judge that you were arrested at 5 p.m. on 5 December in Kunri. If you tell the judge that you were picked up in Hyderabad and were tortured, I will have you on 15 days’ remand and deliver you back to the ISI”. Then I was taken to an Anti-terrorism court. … (Days later) when I could see the Judge I told him that I was tortured and showed him torture marks on my body. The judge sent me for the medical and I requested the doctor to be truthful in his medical report. … Those who took my cash and belongings at the time of my arrest have not delivered those back to me.

“I am now happy to be eventually on bail and with my family once again. I am however afraid whenever I go out in the open. If I die, please do look after my wife and children, and please take care of my elderly father.”

This is how the state wastes its time, resources and energy on worthless tasks assigned by the mulla. It is no surprise that it ends up with problems like those in Swat, Waziristan and Gojra.

Mullas convene in a grand meeting presided over by the Chief Minister, and formally and jointly stress sectarian hatred and prejudice while condemning extremism conditionally

Lahore; July 1, 2009: According to a huge advertisement, covering more than one third of a page of some national vernacular dailies, the Government of the Punjab conveyed to the public that a special meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, the Khadim Punjab, on July 1, 2009, in which illustrious Ulama Karam (the respected ulama) of various denominations participated, and issued a Joint Declaration.

The declaration mentioned that suicide attacks are un-Islamic and are in the forbidden (haram) category. They declared that those who shed the blood of innocent Muslims should be held accountable (as if the Islam of these mullas permits shedding blood of innocent Non-Muslims. Ed).

The Joint Declaration is long and reflects mostly the government policy. The participant mullahs however found the government a willing partner in incorporating deplorable exceptions in the Declaration (like the ‘innocent Muslims’, mentioned above). Also, in the concluding sentence at the end it mentions: “The Ulama Karam jointly held that suicide attacks and all acts of terrorism inside Pakistan are anti-Islam, Pakistan and humanity.” (Emphasis added). Obviously, the Ulama Karam are not sure that acts of terrorism outside Pakistan are un-Islamic. However, the most significant and deplorable part of the Declaration is its Clause 2 which met official approval in this meeting that was ostensibly held to promote peace in Pakistan. It states:

“Faith in the Prophethood of Khatam-an-Nabiyyeen Muhammad (PBUH) and love, obedience and association with him is the basis of our religious identity, collective life and national solidarity. Unfailing certainty in his end of prophethood (Khatme Nabuwwat) is an integral part of our faith. It is our religious duty to safeguard the honor of the Prophethood (PBUH). Anyone who is guilty, directly or indirectly, openly or by implication, of even minor insolence to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is an infidel (Kafir), apostate (Murtad) and must be put to death (Wajib-ul-Qatl).”

The meticulous detail and wording of this clause has provided the ulama with ample license to demand and promote bloodshed and violence — and the government of the Punjab has conceded that. They paid from public funds not only to hold the meeting but also spent a huge amount on its advertisement in press. If the government had held the meeting initially to promote peace, the mulla succeeded in co-opting it for greater violence and blood in future.

The meeting demanded action against murderers of Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, and inter alia against those who indoctrinated the killer. From a reading of the Clause 2 of the Declaration mentioned above, it is obvious that participants of this meeting were of the category who undertake such indoctrination.

The excellent names (Asma-e-grami) of the participating ‘respected ulama’ (Ulama Karam) as advertised were the following:

Maulana Hanif Jalandhri
Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahim
Maulana Amjad Khan
Maulana Zahid-ur-Rashdi
Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri
Syed Mahfuz Mashhadi
Syed Mahfuz Safdar Shah
Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Sialvi
Mr. Mahmud H Sheikh Hashmi
Maulana Muhammad Sharif Rizvi
Maulana Rashid Mian
Maulana Abdur Rauf Rabbani

The Internet shows that this official meeting and its Declaration attracted a great deal of unfavorable comment from international human rights activists - individuals and organizations. A section of this huge ad in the press is reproduced here.

Advertisemt from Government of Punjab

(Translation) The daily Pakistan, Lahore; (8) July 4, 2009
Suicide attacks are un-Islamic and are in the forbidden category (haram).
Those who shed the blood of innocent Muslims should be held accountable.
Consensus in the meeting attended by top respected Ulama (Karam).
On July 1, 2009 a special meeting was held under the chairmanship of Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, the Khadim Punjab, in which top respected Ulama of various denominations participated.
Joint Declaration
“Faith in the Prophethood of Khatam-an-Nabiyyeen Muhammad (PBUH) and love, obedience and association with him is the basis of our religious identity, collective life and national solidarity. Unfailing certainty in his end of prophethood (Khatme Nabuwwat) is an integral part of our faith. It is our religious duty to safeguard the honor of the Prophethood (PBUH). Anyone who is guilty, directly or indirectly, openly or by implication, of even minor insolence to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is an infidel (Kafir), apostate (Murtad) and must be put to death (Wajib-ul-Qatl).”

The police join extremists to impose mass persecution on Ahmadis in District Faisalabad

Lathianwala, Chak 194, District Faisalabad: The police registered a fabricated case against 32 Ahmadis under the dreaded blasphemy law PPC 295-C, anti Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C, anti-terrorism clause PPC 295-A and other laws PPC 506 and 109, on July 25, 2009 with FIR 486/09 in Police Station Khararianwala. If declared guilty, the accused could be hanged.

While the details are awaited, a copy of the FIR has become available. In this the accusing party blames Ahmadis inter alia of posing as Muslims, using Islamic epithets, praising God, thanking Him, displaying the Kalima (Islamic creed), writing Mashallah (by the will and grace of God) on their residences etc. This has hurt the feelings of Muslims, according to the report; these writings defile the beliefs of Ahle Sunnat (Brelvis) and they feel threatened, etc.

Obviously, the FIR and the agitation is fabricated and artificially created and nourished in bad faith. The police have most wrongfully registered the case. This exposes all the named 32 Ahmadis to arrest and prosecution. The case and the treatment of the Ahmadi school children of Layyah is an indicator of what the state and society can do to its citizens who face spurious charge of blasphemy.

Accusing 32 Ahmadis in this case and registration of a criminal case against them whose penalty is nothing but death is a clear indication of gross deterioration of human rights and loss of freedom of faith of marginalized sections of society in the Punjab. Burning and loot of scores of Christian homes in District Qasur and Gojra this month also shows criminal disregard by the authorities towards protection of its citizens.

An opportunity for the state, and a ray of hope

Lahore: Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, Ahmadi is serving a sentence of ‘imprisonment for life’ in Faisalabad prison on a false charge of blasphemy. He was sentenced by a sessions court, and is now in his sixth year of incarceration. He had appealed to the Lahore High Court against the sentence, pleading that he is innocent. Now his turn has come after a very long wait, and a judge is to hear the appeal.

The opposing party counseled by Adv. Rab Nawaz, a rabidly anti-Ahmadiyya lawyer from Chiniot, entered a counter-appeal against Mr. Iqbal, and asked for an enhancement in the sentence (death).

The judge has given the next date of hearing in the second week of August. The accused and his stricken family hope that he will be a free man before the court adjourns for summer holidays.

It is an opportunity for the state to cut its losses in the field of human rights and religious freedom. It should actively help the court in undoing the injustice inflicted upon the innocent victim who is the bread-winner of his family.

No freedom of worship for Ahmadis

Kot Muhammad Yar, District Chiniot: Ahmadis were using a room in this village for prayers and Friday congregations. As and when their women joined in the worship, they would hang a curtain for partition. As the space was getting short for the worshippers, Ahmadis decided to build another room in the prayer center.

As the walls of the new room reached waist high, the police arrived. They told Ahmadis to stop the construction and report to the police station in the evening.

When the Ahmadis arrived at the police station they found the mullas already seated there. There, the SHO asked Ahmadis the purpose of their construction. The Ahmadi delegation told him frankly that if Muslims had a right to build a mosque, Christians their church and Sikhs their Gurdawara, Ahmadis also had a right to build a place of worship for themselves. The SHO did not agree, and told them to seek governmental approval for it. He knew that it was not needed, and if they ask for it Ahmadis will not get it.

Later the SHO told Ahmadis that the mulla will not let them build a room for worship. He volunteered to have the construction material removed under his own supervision. He told Ahmadis to stop praying altogether in the room as before. That was the end of even the minimal possibility of worship that existed before.

The vernacular press joined the monkey chorus, as usual.

Abominable conduct of Tehsil Municipal Administration Kamalia

Pir Mohal, District Toba Tek Singh: We reported last month in some detail as to how an attack, arson and violence took place at an Ahmadiyya graveyard in Pir Mahal. It was mentioned that the authorities had allocated this plot of land to Ahmadis in 1988 to bury their dead. Ahmadis are already buried there.

Some will find it difficult to believe, but the fact is that the Tehsil Municipal Administration Kamaliya cancelled its notification for the Ahmadiyya graveyard on June 9, 2009, citing the threat to law and order as a reason. (The monthly, Jehdi-Haq for July 2009)

Governance had rarely reached that low in Pakistan.

Ahmadi children released on bail after nearly six months in prison

Layyah: We are happy to report that the four Ahmadi children and one adult who have been imprisoned for nearly six months, following their arrest in District Layyah, have been granted bail.

Justice Pervez Inayat of the High Court Bench at Multan granted the bail on condition of fiscal guarantee of Rs. 200,000/- being paid per person.

During the hearing the Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Mr. Pervez Tareen made it clear that there was no evidence connecting any of the accused with the alleged crime. The same finding was offered earlier to the Sessions Judge who still rejected their plea for bail. It was highly improper on the part of the state attorney to oppose the bail in the sessions court, after that finding.

The children have suffered greatly during these months. It was all avoidable. The involved clerics, the politicians, the police, the administration, the lower judiciary, all played their part in hurting the innocent children. They used religion to promote their unworthy personal interests.

The state has not dropped the charges. The accused will still face a trial. If declared ‘guilty’, they could be hanged. It is not at all difficult here to rent witnesses (as many as required) in support of a fictitious religious cause.

Ordinarily, once the bail is granted by a judge, efforts are made by the near and dear ones of the accused to have him released the same day. Despite all efforts by the supporters of these five Ahmadi accused, their release was delayed far beyond normal. Although the High Court accepted the bail on July 7, the ‘decision papers’ had some error, so a correct copy became available on July 10. It was presented the very next day to Mr. Niazi the Additional Sessions Judge Layyah who, for reasons best known to him, did not sign them despite repeated reminders. The designated official thus left for D G Khan without the release orders for the five. The Addl. Sessions Judge signed the papers late in the afternoon. The District Judge thereafter was requested to nominate a special messenger (the accused’s parents offered to pay for his travel expenses etc.) but he refused the plea. The next day was a holiday. So the release was further delayed, and the children could be freed on July 13, six days after the decision by the High Court.

As the accused children are at risk, they were not taken to their village. The parents took them elsewhere so as to be with them without exposure to possible attack.

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of May 21, 2009 deserves serious consideration: “The Taliban cannot defeat Pakistan militarily. The Taliban will win because what they want is already being implemented in Pakistan”. If the present state is not de-facto a ‘theocracy’, what else is? Mr. Jinnah, the founding father had asserted that Pakistan will not be a theocratic state.

A mulla and the Prime Minister

The daily Ausaf, Lahore of July 29, 2009 printed a story whose translation is rendered below. Ausaf’s reporter has quoted mulla Allah Yar Arshad in his report; however, as both this mulla and this newspaper are not known for high morals, the level of authenticity of the published report remains at best uncertain. The press report:

Qadiani place of worship: The Prime Minister orders a report on the sealed mosque belonging to Muslims.

The Prime Minister appreciated Maulana Arshad’s act of bringing the issue to his notice and said that this proved the Maulana’s loyalty to Islam.

Chiniot (Tehsil correspondent): Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan has taken notice of the issue of the construction of a Qadiani place of worship in Nazabad, Chiniot, and the sealing of a Muslim mosque in Nurpur Colony, Ahmad Nagar, and has asked for a report. He mentioned this in an official meeting with Maulana Allah Yar Arshad, leader of the Tehrik Khatme Nabuwwat. The Prime Minister appreciated Maulana Arshad for pointing out this issue and stated that by this timely action of informing him about this case the Maulana has proved his loyalty to Islam and Pakistan. The Prime Minister will have a joint meeting with Maulana Arshad in Islamabad at his first convenience (sic).

Perhaps the PM is unaware that this mulla is registered in the VIth Schedule and is a ‘history sheeter’ in police record for his criminal conduct over a long period.

Open incitement to murder

We produce below the translation of a press report, sic, from the daily Ausaf, Lahore July 25, 2009:

No room for Qadianis in the Muslim Ummah — Chaudhry Iqbal
Haveli Lakkha (correspondent): “There is no room for Qadianis in the Muslim Ummah; it is a religious duty of every Muslim to dispatch a Qadiani to hell,” this view was expressed by Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal President International Khatme-e-Nabuwwat in a corner meeting held to prepare for Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. He said: “Qadianism is a cancer and a mischief. Leave alone boycotting them, a Qadiani should not be allowed to reside in a Muslim area. However, if such a situation does arise, it is the duty of every Muslim to dispatch them to hell and thus win an honored place in the court of Allah and His prophet (P.B.U.H.). Mr. Bhutto’s achievement of declaring the Qadiani non-Muslims is an expiation for all his shortcomings.”

Chaudhry Iqbal has instigated the Muslims to murder Ahmadis living in their neighborhood. If the government is serious about maintaining communal place, it should prosecute Iqbal for committing a crime under section PPC 115.

It is noteworthy that irresponsible vernacular dailies like the Ausaf provide publicity space to such extremist views. This also amounts to abetment of the crime.

Extremist mullas disturb peace near Rabwah over Ahmadiyya mosque

Ahmad Nagar
, District Chiniot:
Mullas based in Rabwah and Chiniot whose sole duty is to target Ahmadis in Rabwah and its environs have targeted an Ahmadiyya mosque in nearby Ahmad Nagar to disturb the peace of the area. This mosque has a background history that also reflects very negatively on the human rights situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan.

Almost a quarter of a century ago an Ahmadi, Rana Vali Muhammad, built a one-room mosque in his own land in sector Nurpur of Ahmad Nagar. The mosque served as a place of worship for approximately two dozen Ahmadis of the neighborhood. As the facility was located near a public route, occasionally a non-Ahmadi would also come and offer his prayers there. To this, Ahmadis never objected; they do not object to anyone who uses an Ahmadiyya mosque for worship of one God.

In 2003, the mosque needed essential repairs and improvements. Ahmadis undertook that. At that occasion mulla Ghulam Mustafa who is an agitator based in Muslim Colony, four kilometers away, arrived and claimed the mosque on the grounds that as Muslim travelers and locals have also used the mosque, it now belonged to them. He sought police intervention, as was sure of state support in a religious issue, however unworthy.

The police official asked for the land deed. The Ahmadi owner showed it to him, and proved to him that the location and the building had always belonged to him and still belonged to him in official papers and in fact. At this, most unjustly, the police official ordered the mosque to be sealed ‘temporarily on account of law and order problem’. The mosque has remained locked for the last six years, and Ahmadis of the neighborhood have remained deprived of their place of worship. Now the mulla is agitating to have the mosque reopened for only Non-Ahmadis.

The mullas have hoisted banners with demands to that effect. They scheduled a conference in Ahmad Nagar on July 22, 2009 to agitate for that. The vernacular press as usual gave the helping hand (the daily Jang, Lahore of July 19, 2009). Mullas of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization, Allah Yar Arshad, Yamin Gauhar, Mugheerah, Ghulam Mustafa, Masood Sarwari etc are leading this agitation. Ahmadis reported the situation to the police.

Mulla Allah Yar Arshad is in the IVth Schedule and a ‘history sheeter’ in police record for his criminal conduct. He arrived in Ahmad Nagar on July 22 accompanied by half a dozen of his own type, and attempted to precipitate a brawl. The police arrived at the scene to maintain order. Ahmadis are maintaining their calm, even though extremist mullas are indulging in provocations. The authorities are shy to deliver the justice, ‘in the interest of law and order’.

Communal tension in Azad Kashmir

A political mulla, Pir Atiq-ur-Rahman has apparently decided to use the ‘Qadiani card’ to promote his political career. He is fairly influential and claims close links with the top leadership of the territory.

The Pir’s campaign in the name of Khatme Nabuwwat is essentially political, sectarian, agitational and even violent. His tactics include intimidating the government through this religious issue. He agitates the common man in his hate speeches against Ahmadiyyat. He hopes to gain political mileage with crutches such as the ‘protection of the end of prophethood’ — an oft-tried tool by numerous political tricksters.

The authorities in Azad Kashmir initially responded obligingly to his pressure tactics, and indulged in wanton violations of Ahmadis’ human rights (see News Report June 2008). This brought a bad name to the government of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. It seems the government decided to recant, and took some damage control measures.

The Pir recently made another attempt at holding Khatme Nabuwwat conferences at various locations e.g. Kotli, Goi, Tatta Pani etc. The yellow vernacular press, as usual, offered plenty of space to the Pir and his acolytes. Newspapers like Nawa-i-Waqt, Ausaf, Khabrain etc spared two, even three-column space to publish disinformation as well information regarding these conferences, etc. Extracts:
We shall not accept any ban on Khatme Nabuwwat Conference.
Among all the anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan forces the most dangerous are Qadianis. In the garb of Islam they are busy in uprooting Islam and Pakistan.
The daily Khabrain, Islamabad; June 26, 2009
Disclosure of heavy amounts donated by the Jewish lobby to blasphemy undertaken by Christian and Qadiani
The Jewish Lobby provided 5 billion rupees to non-Muslims to precipitate sectarian riots in Pakistan. Qaisar Ayub and Shahzad Saleem launched blaspheming website with support of the Jewish lobby who assured them protection.
We shall not accept any ban on the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference — Yasin Gilani
The daily Ausaf, Islamabad; June 26, 2009
The English raised Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani in a major conspiracy. There can be no compromise on the issue of End of Prophethood. … We shall respond to the call of Pir Atiq ur Rahman and shall spare no sacrifice to that end. The Khatme Nabuwwat Conference shall be held.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Islamabad; June 26, 2009
The administration and police officials of Kotli said, “We have appealed to Pir Atiq ur Rahman that the circumstances are not favorable, the (proximity of) Control Line is relevant, so please do not hold the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference at Goi.”
The daily Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad; June 26, 2009
Auspiciously, the authorities did not allow the holding of the conference. It must have taken some effort. However, the monster has grown in size, only because the Pir was seen often in company of the local prime minister last year.

At Mirpur:

Mirpur is an important city in Azad Kashmir. A few recent reports from there:
  • Anti-Ahmadiyya leaflets were distributed in Mirpur Engineering University.
  • Mr. Tahir Ahmad, Ahmadi, owner of a marble factory was threatened of harm, on telephone.
  • Mr. Ashraf, an Ahmadi, is a teacher at Kurdah Town. He is targeted by local agitators for his faith. They met the headmaster and urged him to take some action against him.
  • Tariq Ahmad, a young man worked in a tailoring shop. His boss asked him to recite the Kalima, which he did. At this the boss slapped him on the face. Tariq quit the job after this. A few days later the boss met him and apologized; his son had fallen ill and has been diagnosed as suffering from blood cancer. The boss now thinks that his ordeal has its roots in his maltreatment of Tariq Ahmad.
At Rawla Kot:

Pir Atiq ur Rahman presided over a joint meeting of Jamiat Ulama Jammu and Kashmir and Jamaat Ahle Sunnat. Its proceedings were reported in a three-column report by the daily Ausaf, Islamabad of July 1, 2009. Excerpts:
  • Qadianis are enemies of Islam, Pakistan and the Freedom Movement; they can live here only as non-Muslim minority. They will not be permitted to practice Islam.
  • The speakers strongly condemned those people who support Qadianis. These people are not worth even a penny.
  • Qadianis’ slaves (Zar kharid) should stop supporting them or be prepared for their doom.
  • A great Paigham-e-Mustafa (The message of Muhammad p.b.u.h.) Conference will be held on August 13 at Rawala Kot, the home of Mujahedeen and fighters (Ghazis) against infidels.
  • Participating clerics included: Mufti-e-Kashmir Muhammad Hussain, Hayat Khan Qadri, Nazir H Shah Gilani, Abdul Aziz Abbasi of Majlis Amal Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, A Qayyum Faruqi, Wajahat Gardezi, Dr Quddus, Aslam Zafar, Ghulam Yasin Gilani, Sardar Khadim Hussain, Mahbub Hayat Qadri, Imtiaz Siddiqui, Jabbar Shah, Zubair Naqshbandi, Haji Siddique, Tanveer Hussain, Israel Khan, Khalil Qadri, Shafiq Ahmad, Qari Hanif, Syed Gardezi, Rahim Dad and Altaf Hussain etc.

Sectarianism in women's hostel and college

Faisalabad: Miss Baslah Ahmad, an Ahmadi student of Government College University, residing in the Para-Medical Girls Hostel, near Company Bagh, in Faisalabad has reported extensive prejudice and sectarian hostility against her in the hostel. It shows the corroding effect on society of the highly provocative leaflets and folders issued by various Khatme Nabuwwat organizations and distributed freely in educational institutions.

Briefly, Miss Ahmad has lived in that hostel for the last two years in company of non-Ahmadi girls, and the stay has been smooth and friendly all along — till two months ago. In April this year a pamphlet titled: Who is Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani? was delivered to the hostel, and Baslah’s room-mates confronted her with that provocative and incendiary material. Baslah tried to avoid the provocation but the agitated colleagues persisted. The incident spread the fire of hatred further in the next few days, and became an issue of which the administration took notice. Fortunately the administration did not join the agitation; it tried to calm the agitators. The girls, however, on their own, told Baslah not to join them at the dining table, and imposed a social boycott on her. The boycott, however, remained only partly effective, as some of the girls privately supported Baslah. Some elements that thrive upon discord and mischief proceeded to suggest that Baslah had committed ‘blasphemy’. They also referred to the last year’s events of the Punjab Medical College.

This incident is an example how sectarianism gets foothold in educational institutions and hostels. A lenient attitude of the administration towards agents-provocateurs encourages them to spread the mischief. Agitational sectarianism leads to religious extremism that leads conveniently to terrorism. This is how educated women are found among those who put on suicide belts.

Religious extremists active in Okara

Okara: Anti-Ahmadi elements launched an organized effort to promote sectarian hatred in Okara and other towns of this district. Hate literature was distributed in various bazaars. Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat organization hung hate banners in the Mandi Ahmad Abad, with writings such as:
  • The worst infidels in the whole world are the Qadianis.
  • Anyone who trades with Qadianis is also an infidel (Kafir).
  • One who is friendly to a Qadiani is an enemy of the Master (p.b.u.h.) etc.

Extremist leaders met the local shop-keepers in person and exhorted them to boycott Ahmadi businessmen.

Ahmadis feel concerned with the rise in hateful activities. They met the police SHO who appeared heedless, so they intend to meet the DPO.

Villainy of a resident mulla in Rabwah

Rabwah; July 2009: Recently Mr. Mahmud Ahmad Gondal, Ahmadi proprietor of Gondal Banquet Hall, sent a written complaint to the police SHO against Mulla Allah Yar Arshad.

According to the complaint, the mulla telephoned Mr. Gondal, spoke to him in foul and threatening language and told him to shut down his business or face action. As the Banquet Hall is close to the mulla’s residence, he threatened that any Ahmadi passing in that street in car or on motor cycle will be killed. The mulla warned him against reporting the incident to the police. According to the complaint, a few days later, the mulla’s acolytes attacked a guest’s car, stoned it and chased the guest to the Hall.

Mr. Gondal has requested the SHO to register a case against the mulla, and provide security to the complainant against the bully.

Save victims of the blasphemy law - the Daily Times

Lahore, July 3, 2009: The prestigious Daily Times of Lahore published a story of this title, on July 3, 2009. An extract:
Last month an additional judge of Layyah refused bail to five Ahmadis including four teenagers accused of having blasphemed by writing an offensive word in a latrine of a Sunni mosque in a ‘Chak’ of Layyah. The five have been languishing for the past four and a half months in a jail in Dera Ghazi Khan without the government coming to their help. The police registered a case against them without the required prior investigation because of pressure from the local MNA and a banned terrorist organization itself under trial these days. This was affirmed in investigative reports from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
The police investigation, when finally submitted, said there was no direct evidence against the five accused. The FIR says that the plaintiffs were moved only by “suspicion” because the accused were “non-Muslim” Ahmadis. The four children are in a bad shape in the Dera Ghazi Khan jail with one in sharply declining health. They face death under Blasphemy Law which has brought nothing but infamy to the state of Pakistan and to its intimidated judiciary.

Christians burnt alive; their homes attacked and looted

Qasur, and Gojra, Punjab: It is learnt from press report that within a month religious extremists burnt scores of houses, owned by Christians in Kasur and Gojra, and looted some of them. The arson resulted in burning of seven Christians to death; including four women and a child.

The enormity, the evil, the hurt and the depravity of these incidents is beyond description.

The province of the Punjab is administered these days by Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister, and the Inspector General of Police is Mr. Tariq Saleem Dogar.

Ahmadis behind bars

  1. Mr. Muhammad Iqbal was imprisoned for life in a fabricated case of blasphemy. He was arrested in July 2004, and is now incarcerated in the Central Jail, Faisalabad. An appeal lies with the Lahore High Court against the decision of the Sessions Court, and is under consideration these days. It is registered as Criminal Appeal No. 89/2005. He is now in the sixth year of his imprisonment.
  2. Three Ahmadis namely Messrs, Basharat, Nasir Ahmad and Muhammad Idrees along with 7 others of Chak Sikandar were arrested in September 2003 on a false charge of murder of a cleric, alleged by opponents of the Jamaat. The police, after due investigation found no evidence against the accused. Yet these men still faced ‘complaint trial’ for a crime they did not commit. Based on the unreliable testimony of the two alleged eye-witnesses (who were proven false in the court) the court acquitted seven of the accused, but on the evidence of the same two liars the court sentenced these three innocent Ahmadis to death. They are being held in a death row at a prison in Jehlum, while their appeal lies with the Lahore High Court. They are now in the sixth year of their incarceration. Their appeal to the Lahore High Court is registered as Criminal Appeal No. 616/2005 dated 26 April 2005.
  3. Dr. Muhammad Asghar was arrested on a fabricated charge of blasphemy in June 2008. The judge rejected his plea for bail. The police investigation found him innocent. Subsequently his plea for bail has been rejected by the High Court — and the Supreme Court.

From the press

Police registers criminal case against 32 Qadianis in (Chak) 194 R.B. The accused must be punished — (mulla) Nasir Naqshbandi
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; July 27, 2009
To dispatch a Qadiani to hell is the religious duty of every Muslim - Chaudhri Muhammad Iqbal President International Khatme Nabuwwat (Haveli Lakkha)
The daily Ausaf, Lahore; July 25, 2009
Constitution to be restored in true form — Kaira (PPP Federal Minister of Information)
The daily Dawn, Lahore; July 7, 2009
Chiniot will be developed into a model district. — Hamza Shahbaz Sharif
The daily Jang, Lahore; July 2, 2009
The CIA planned the 9/11 — Liaquat Baloch (of JI)
The daily Waqt, Lahore; July 21, 2009
Qadianis, the enemies of Pakistan, wish to transfer (Pakistan’s) nuclear assets to the UN — Khatme Nabuwwat Conference (in London)
The daily Ausaf, Lahore; July 25, 2009
Qadianis who defiled the Pak flag (allegedly in London) should be hanged upside down. — Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat
Pak High Commissioner should be fired and tried for treason. Leaders demand.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; July 15, 2009
Qadianis are not allowed to follow Islamic practices (Sha’ere Islam). Their slaves should stop supporting them. — Ulama-e-Ahle Sunnat

Qadianis are the enemies of Islam, Pakistan and the Freedom Movement

Pakistan was created by the Ahle Sunnat. …Qadianis can reside here only as a non-Muslim minority in accordance with the law and constitution…. Qadianis’ slaves should stop supporting them, or be prepared to meet their end. … It was decided to hold a massive rally on Thursday, August 13, 2009 as the Message of Muhammad Conference (Paighame Mustafa) in Rawlakot, the city of Mujahids and Ghazis. …

The daily Ausaf, Lahore; July 1, 2009
Chenab Nagar has become a depot of problems due to negligence of the administration.
Filth piles everywhere, broken roads, overflowing gutters and foul smell have made residents’ life difficult.
Risk of outbreak of epidemics. Problems should be solved: residents appeal to higher authorities.
The daily Din, Lahore; July 14, 2009
Dawa expanding operations in AJK (Azad Jummu and Kashmir): Report
The Daily Times, Lahore; July 1, 2009
Forces recover 200 children indoctrinated for suicide attacks. ‘Apart from us all are infidels,’ (they were told).
Children’s ages range from 6 to 13. Children are so motivated that they are ready to kill their parents. Bashir Bilor, Senior Minister NWFP
The daily Jinnah, Lahore; July 28, 2009
(Madrassah) Darul Ulum Haqqania Akura Khattak was the center of activities in the movement to present the Nifaz Shariat Bill in the Senate.
The government of Pakistan has declared that donations made to the (Madrassah) Haqqani are tax-free.
The daily Ausaf, Lahore; July 21, 2009
Seven (Christians) burnt alive in Gojra violence.
The daily Dawn, Lahore; August 2, 2009
Christians’ homes burnt over ‘desecration’ (in Gojra)
The daily Dawn, Lahore; August 1, 2009
Protest in Gujranwala against burning 150 Christians’ houses and molestation of women (in Kasur)
The daily Waqt, Lahore; July 10, 2009
Supreme Court refuses bail for ‘blasphemer

The bench, consisting of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ijaz Ahmad and Justice Jawwad S Khawja, was hearing the bail plea of Baba Zaman.

…Zaman then moved the Supreme Court, which also upheld the LHC’s (Lahore High Court) decision and rejected the bail plea. The CJP observed that it was a sensitive matter. He also ordered the trial court to dispose it within three months.
The Daily Times, Lahore; July 1, 2009
The Punjab Police stole items worth Rs. 94.1 billion seized during policing.

The budget for the police has gone up from Rs. 7 billion to 30 billion but the crime has gone up between 5 to 33 percent. Report of the Interior Division

The daily Jang, Lahore; July 2, 2009
Save victims of blasphemy law. — National Commission for Justice and Peace
The Daily Times, Lahore; July 3, 2009
LHC CJ takes notice of burning of Christians’ houses in Kasur
The Daily Times, Lahore; July 10, 2009
Five hurt as police (IJT) students clash (in Lahore)
The daily Dawn, Lahore; July 29, 2009
SC clears Nawaz in plane hijacking case
The Daily Times, Lahore; July 18, 2009

Fires of hate in Gojra

Only a few weeks ago, rows upon rows of houses belonging to Christians were set on fire in Kasur. Compensation was promised to the affected but while the government might have felt satisfied over the ‘final settlement’ of the issue, observers were shocked by the ferocity and freedom with which the act of violence was carried out. Gojra reconfirms the fear that the state is finding it harder with the passage of time to protect citizens under attack by vengeful, organized and well-armed groups. It is one of the grimiest examples of the tattered nature of our social fabric.
The editorial in the Dawn, Lahore; August 2, 2009
Pakistan’s assets and liabilities

He (President Zardari) recently told a foreign newspaper that Pakistan’s former “assets” – the Jihidis and Mujahideen and Taliban – had now become ‘liabilities’ who were posing an existential threat to the state and the country.
The editorial in the Friday Times, Lahore; July 10, 2009
In a letter to Sufi Muhammad… (from Dr Asrar)

…You are absolutely right in that the gravest Kufr (Un-Islam) and Shirk (polytheism) of the present age is the democracy of this era.

…The same is true for the state (Sultanate) of Pakistan. In principle and in constitution it is ‘Islamic’ but in practice it is Fasiq (sinful) and Fajir (fornicator, unchaste — Ferozsons).

…… If by the grace of Allah the Islamic Nizame Adl and the Sharia is imposed in Malakand in a special way, just like (the special status of) Tribal Areas in Pakistan or the status of Kashmir in the Indian Constitution, and by residing in full peace and harmony within Pakistan, its blessings will spread like the rays of the solar disc first in the NWFP, then in entire Pakistan and eventually in the whole world.
Dr Asrar Ahmad: Nida-i-Khilafat; Lahore; June 8, 2009
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