August 18th, 2020
By Ahmad Saeed
Pir Mahal police have lodged a first information report (FIR) against an Ahmadi man and his two sons under Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for sacrificing a cow on the occasion of Eid ul Azha earlier this month.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of a local seminary leader and religious cleric, Mufti Abid Fareed. According to the text of the FIR, the accused men have hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community by slaughtering a cow and disturbing the meat among Muslims. It also stated that they have also donated the sacrificial hide to a local madrasah.
The police said that it had arrested one of the accused and sent him to jail on judicial remand but he later got bail from a local court. The court also granted pre-arrest bail to the other two nominated in the case.
The section 298 C which prohibits the members of Ahmadi faith “to poses themselves as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, their faith as Islam or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims.”
A person who violates the said Section shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
This section along with few other amendments in the PPC and Code of criminal procedure (CrPC) was inserted by former military dictator General Zia ul Haq through a presidential ordinance titled as “The Anti-Islamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahore Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance 1984”.
The ordinances had been severely criticized by the civil society and were termed as discriminatory.
Amir Mahmood, media officer of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya said that thousands of cases had been registered against the Ahmadis for allegedly violating the ordinance since 1984. He said that some people were even booked and sent to jail just for Salam.
According to a report published by the community, at least 1222 Ahmadis have been arrested or nominated in different cases on religious grounds for the last 36 years.
“Everything has been banned for Ahmadis in Pakistan and this is because of the mindset of the clerics who want to increase intolerance for us in the society,” Mahmood added. “We were allowed to sacrifice the animals on Eid ul Azha but for the last three or four years, people belonging to the Ahmadiyya community have been charged under 298-C for sacrificing.”
He said that every year a campaign was run by some clerics in different cities to stop observing Eid ul Azha and sacrificing animals.
An Ahmadi man residing in Lahore, on the condition of anonymity told Voicepk.net that he wanted to sacrifice a goat this Eid but he changed his mind after a fierce campaign, run by a religious group, aimed at stopping Ahmadis from slaughtering animals on Eid in his neighborhood.
“I didn’t want to risk my life so instead of doing it at my home, I gave the money to the Jamaat who did a collective sacrifice at an unknown place,” he said.
He said that three years ago, sacrificial animals of an Ahmadi person were confiscated by the police just a few days before Eid-ul-Azha on the complaint of his neighbors.
“With every passing year, the society is becoming more and radicalized and it has become extremely difficult for us to observe religious rites without any fear,” he said.
Citing the difficulties faced by the community, Mahmood said the situation is so serious than that Ahmadis can’t even keep or publish their books.
“In our main library at Rabwah, we don’t have the book of our founder, Mirza Gulam Ahmad because it has been banned by Punjab government since 2014 and it is also even inaccessible on the internet as our sites are blocked.”