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Pakistan

Pakistani Ahmadis accused of blasphemy over Islamic tombstones

Hardline Islamist party files police complaint against 'declared infidels' for hurting Muslims' religious feelings

Pakistani Ahmadis accused of blasphemy over Islamic tombstones

Ahmadi graves desecrated in Gujranwala, Punjab province, in July 2020. (Photo supplied)

Ahmadis in a Pakistani town have been accused of blasphemy for inscribing Islamic phrases on gravestones.

Police in Sharaqpur Sharif in Punjab province registered the case against 11 Ahmadis and organizers of the community under Section 298-C of the blasphemy laws, which specifically refers to Ahmadis for posing "as a Muslim." That section of the law can carry a fine and up to three years’ imprisonment.

Asadullah, an activist of the hardline Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), filed the complaint against “the declared infidels” for angering and hurting the religious feelings of Muslims.

He accused them of writing the names of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, Kalma (the Islamic proclamation of faith) and other phrases on tombstones. 

In a first information report (FIR), Asadullah said the Ahmadis had insulted Prophet Muhammad. “Islamic principles must be protected,” he stated.   

TLP’s Sharaqpur Sharif branch urged its members to share the report.

“All groups should share the FIR against the big blasphemous group of Qadianis on Twitter and Facebook pages and demand the urgent arrest of these accused Qadianis,” it stated in a Jan. 14 tweet.  

Officials in Rabwah, the Ahmadi community headquarters in Punjab province, declined to comment.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws, introduced by former military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul Haq in the 1980s, allow for a death sentence as the maximum punishment for insulting Prophet Mohammed. Human rights activists say laws have been used against non-Muslim Pakistanis and minority Muslim faiths including Shia and Ahmadis.

In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. They are banned from preaching and from traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimages.

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In July 2020, police removed Islamic symbols on gravestones at Tirigri village in Gujranwala, about 80 kilometers from Lahore, following a complaint lodged by a cleric. The local chapter of the Ahmadi community gave an undertaking that it would not use Islamic symbols.

Four Ahmadis were murdered in Pakistan from August to November 2020. 

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