July 24, 2023
In a fresh wave of terrorism against the Ahmadi community, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has launched a hate campaign against the community as a whole, threatening to demolish minarets at their worship places and a protest rally planned for the 10th of Muharram (the first Islamic month of the year), which is Youm-e-Aashur. The protest will be held in Jhelum, and is being led by Chaudhry Nazakat Ali Rizvi, Syed Chan Pir Shah and Maulana Asim Ishfaq Rizvi.
Asim Ishfaq Rizvi a prominent leader of the TLP in the Jhelum district is notorious in the media for inciting hate against Ahmadis in speeches and promoting religious extremism.
Allegedly, two first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against Asim Ishfaq Rizvi and his companions under Article 16 of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). Police however are yet to confirm the reports.
Protesters are demanding the demolition of minarets and mehrabs, as well an imposition of a strict ban on religious activities of the Ahmadiyya community, while the organizers of the rally have also instructed attendees to demolish minarets from “Shaandar Chowk to the Qadiani Centre Jehlum.”
The proposed protest route includes some Ahmadiyya worship sites which are hundreds of years old.
Amir Mehmood, the spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya community, expressed concern regarding the protest in the sacred month of Muharram, which is already vulnerable to sectarian clashes.
“Muharram is an important month for Muslims, and Muslim Shias have their processions in the month. Protests by TLP will disrupt those processions as well as raise chances of violence and sectarian hate crimes,”
Events of the night of July 14
Mehmood while speaking to Voicepk.net shared that on the night of July 14, members of the Ahmadiyya community Jhelum received threats that their places of worship were going to be demolished.
In response to these threats, Jhelum Police allegedly suggested the Ahmadiyya community surrender and topple the minarets themselves, to which leaders of the community refused to bow down.
He further stated that when they did not surrender, police confiscated their phones and destroyed the minarets themselves.
When Voicepk.net reached out to Jhelum Police, they refused to address the issue due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
UN body expresses grave alarm
Concerned over the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a letter directing government officials to address the issue, as reported by DAWN.
“We would like to bring to the attention of your Excellency’s Government the information we have received concerning growing discrimination and rising incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence against the Ahmadi religious minority in Pakistan, including attacks against places of worship and other acts of intimidation.” the OHCHR stated in its letter.
The letter was received by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Code of Conduct by the CII
A detailed code of conduct was issued by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Saturday, stating that only educated religious scholars are permitted to discuss Islamic ideas and that no one may label another Muslim as a non-believer.
Chairman of the CII Dr Qibla Ayaz addressed a press conference following a consultative meeting with notable religious scholars and leaders. He said the code was intended to preserve peace and tranquillity, especially during the month of Muharram across the nation.
Despite the fact that all Islamic schools of thought are free to spread their ideas, he pointed out that the code expressly forbade inciting hostility or making unjustified charges against specific people, organisations, or groups.
Mehmood in response to this code of conduct said that it was the government who declared the Ahmadiyya community non-Muslim in the first place, however, they welcome their code of conduct and hope for peace.