August 7, 2023
The Ahmadiyya community on Sunday alleged that they have received threats to demolish the minarets and mehrabs of their worship places in Nankana Sahib and Faisalabad.
A recent surge in attacks against Ahmadiyya worship places, known as Bait-ul-Zikar, has threatened the safety of the community. Since the beginning of 2023, approximately 12 cases of violence against the Ahmadis have surfaced, five of which occured in the Punjab region and seven in Sindh.
The Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), an extremist religious political party, launched a campaign against the Ahmadiyya community prior to Eid-ul-Adha this year. Threats by TLP leaders were made in public progressions and gatherings, who reirated their primary demand to restrain the Ahmadis from engaging in Islamic activities.
Five cases were registered in various districts of Punjab against members of the minority community for allegedly sacrificing animals on Eid days. At least two people were arrested and charged under section 298(C) of the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC), which prohibits individuals belonging to the Ahmadiyya community from calling or representing themselves as Muslims through spoken or written words or visible symbols.
The section however does not include any design specifications for Ahmadiyya worship places.
After the events of Eid-ul-Adha, the TLP issued a proclamation to target Ahmadiyya worship places which featured minarets or mehrabs, beginning with a protest rally on the 10th of Muharram. Although the rally was eventually delayed, the group allegedly continued to issue threats to Ahmadiyya leaders across Punjab and Sindh demanding the removal of the structures, and that in case of non-compliance the TLP would demolish them by force.
Amir Mehmood, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community, claims that a pattern can be seen in these attacks: in Sindh, TLP members are tearing down the minarets themselves, while in Punjab, TLP is pleading with the authorities, more specifically the police, to intervene.
He told Voicepk.net that the Punjab Police is pressuring the community to take down the minarets themselves or cover them to avoid conflict, adding that in a relatively recent incident, Jhelum Police allegedly facilitated TLP miscreants in toppling down the minarets of a Bait-ul-Zikar on the night of July 14. When Voicepk.net reached out to Jhelum Police, they refused to address the issue due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
Threats and violent attacks against the Ahmadiyya community have continued to date. On Sunday, the community alleged fresh threats to damage two of their worship places, one located on Faisalabad Road and the other in Chak 45/RB, Sangla Hill, Nankana Sahib.
Additionally, the minarets of a Bait-ul-Zikar in 168-Murad, Bahawalnagar, were destroyed by unidentified persons in the wee hours of Monday.
Mehmood says that the community has appealed to Dr. Muhammad Shoaib Suddle, the sole member of the One-Man Commission on Minorities Rights, to provide them security.
“We are worried about the portrayal of the image of Pakistan in the international community, as the authorities are repeatedly violating human rights,” Mehmood says.
In addition, the Ahmadiyya community has submitted letters to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of Punjab, and a number of other ministries pleading for for notice of the mounting threat against them, but are yet to receive any reply or acknowledgment.