Three men belonging to the minority Ahmadi community were arrested on Sunday in Faisalabad for sacrificing goats on the occasion of Eidul Azha, sources said.
The Thekriwala police took the men into custody from Chak 89-GB Ratan village and charged them along with two others under Section 298 on the complaint of a local Muslim, Majid Javed, who alleged that he and some other locals were present at a mosque after offering Eid prayers when they were informed that five members of an Ahmadi family were sacrificing goats in their homes.
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Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) states: “Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who, directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his 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, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Bashir further alleged that when he and the other persons went to the roof of a neighbouring house, they saw that a goat was being sacrificed in the courtyard of an Ahmadi house while in another courtyard some men were cutting sacrificial meat.
The FIR [First Information Report] claimed that the Ahmadi men had hurt the religious sentiments of the complainant and other Muslims by offering sacrifice on Eidul Azha, therefore they should be arrested.
Faisalabad Police spokesperson Muneed Ahmed told a foreign media outlet that the three Ahmadi men were arrested because, according to law, Ahmadis are non-Muslims and they can neither call themselves Muslims nor carry out Islamic rituals.
READ MORE: Ahmadi man ‘stabbed to death’ in Okara
Ahmed further claimed that the men had been taken into protective custody because a large number of Muslims had besieged their house and the situation could have deteriorated.
The police official confirmed that the accused were offering the sacrifice inside their house. “We had already warned the Ahmadi community not to indulge in any activity on Eid that might cause a law and order situation,” he said.
The accused will now be presented in court where we will seek their remand, he said.
The Jamaat-e-Ahmaddiya Pakistan condemned the arrests and accused police of harassing the community on Eid.
“3 Ahmadies in Thekriwala Faisalabad arrested for offering qurbani within the four walls of their house today. Police is intimidating Ahmadies across Punjab on this Eid. Ahmadies can not even have peace on the day of Eid,” Ahmadi community’s spokesperson Saleem Ud Din said in a tweet.
3 Ahmadies in Thekriwala Faisalabad arrested for offering Qurbani within the 4 walls of their house today.
Police is intimidating Ahmadies across Punjab on this Eid.
Ahmadies can not even have peace on the day of Eid.@OfficialDPRPP @RanaSanaullahPK @HRCP87 @amnesty pic.twitter.com/IUHtkcanNS
— Saleem ud Din (@SaleemudDinAA) July 10, 2022
Another member of the community, Mirza Mahmood Ahmad tweeted: “This is what we go through! So please before painting Pakistan as a bastion for the rights of minorities I’d say please give me a break. And just a few days ago 10s if (sic) Ahmedi graves were desecrated. We can’t have peace alive or dead.”
This is what we go through! So before painting Pakistan as a bastion for the rights of minorities I’d say Please give me a break. And just few days ago 10s if Ahmedi graves were desecrated. We can’t have peace alive or dead. pic.twitter.com/tDpTEuHXVI
— Mirza Mahmood Ahmad (@MirzaMahmood65) July 10, 2022
Condemning the incident, lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani referred to a recent judgement by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court which endorsed religious freedom for non-Muslims.
“To deprive a non-Muslim (minority) of our country from holding his religious beliefs, to obstruct him from professing and practicing his religion within the four walls of his place of worship is against the grain of our democratic Constitution and repugnant to the spirit and character of our Islamic Republic,” Justice Shah wrote in a nine-page judgement after hearing a blasphemy petition against some Ahmadi individuals.
As if on cue, the Pakistani authorities have given us another example of the religious bigotry they are capable of. This despite the fact that the SC ruled clearly that Ahmadis were free to pray, and carry out ritual sacrifice within the confines of their homes, places of worship https://t.co/woudyO7RDU
— Yasser Latif Hamdani (@theRealYLH) July 10, 2022
Section 298-C along with a few other amendments in the PPC and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was inserted by former military dictator General Ziaul 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.