A Muslim mob has halted the construction of an Ahmadiyya place of worship in Sindh’s Sanghar district near Mirpurkhas.
The construction of the house of an Ahmadi leader and the worship place, also known as Baitul Zikr, had sparked outrage among locals as its architecture allegedly included a minaret, which is a common feature of Muslim architecture and is therefore associated with mosques.
On Wednesday, an angry mob surrounded the building, and only dispersed after police halted the construction and sealed the place of worship to ‘keep the peace’.
A representative of the Ahmadiyya community described the occurrence as an unfortunate act and a threat to the community. He questioned the police’s action and their inclination towards the protesters allegedly linked with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a conservative religio-political party.
Article 298-B of the Constitution of Pakistan restricts the Ahmadiyya community from referring to their place of worship as a “masjid”.
“Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship a “Masjid”; shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine,” the section reads.
The community has opted for the term “Baitul Zikr” to describe their place of worship which means a ‘place of contemplation’.
Meanwhile, in separate incidents, the gravestones of Ahmadi graves in Kotli and Sheikhupura districts were allegedly desecrated by unidentified individuals under the cover of the night.
A spokesperson for the minority community regretted that vandals were increasingly targeting Ahmadi graves.
“It is deeply saddening for us,” he said.
After a call from TLP leaders, five first information reports (FIRs) were registered against members of the Ahmadiyya community for allegedly slaughtering or attempting to slaughter sacrificial animals on the occasion of Eidul Azha.
In recent times, the TLP has also negotiated terms with the government on the matter of curbing blasphemy, as confirmed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on June 18.
Since 1984, Muslim mobs have destroyed 31 places of worship of the Ahmadiyya community and sealed 44 others. Since 1984, at least 279 Ahmadis have died as a result of their faith.