It is with great regret that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat confirms that five members of its community residing in Chak 172/TDA, District Layyah, Pakistan have been arrested and charged under Section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code. In a grave blow to any standards of decency, four of the accused are children studying at the English language ‘Superior Academy’ private school. Under the terms of Section 295-C any person found guilty is subject to either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The four accused children are Muhammad Irfan, Tahir Imran, Tahir Mahmood and Naseeb Ahmad.are between 14 and 16. Mr Mubashar Ahmad, aged 50, has also been arrested under section 295-C.
All five were taken into custody on 28 January 2009 . After four hours in custody each of the accused was charged under the terms of section 295-C on the completely false grounds that they had written the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the walls of a toilet at the Jamia Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque.
Asma Jahangir, the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that it was heinous to use the law against children. The HRCP was finding facts about the incident, she said, and would soon send a team to Layyah while Religious scholar Javed Ghamidi said the children were safer in police custody.
Mr Salim-ud-Din, Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Pakistan said:
“These allegations are completely false and baseless. The police have no evidence whatsoever and have merely succumbed to the pressure of those who spread religious hatred in the region.”
It is of note that none of the persons arrested have any connection to the Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque and they do not live anywhere near it.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has stated:
“Family members were told (by the District Police Officer) that the police were under pressure from fundamentalists to act against the children. If he did not arrest them, the group had threatened to close down the whole city and attack the houses of Ahmadi sect members… The AHRC urges the government of President Asif Zardari to immediately release the illegally detained prisoners.”
The charge laid against the five Ahmadis is completely without foundation. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat reveres the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the final law bearing prophet, who brought with him a universal teaching. No disrespect towards him could ever be tolerated by any Ahmadi; man, woman or child. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote:
“The man who in his being and his attributes and his actions and through his spiritual and holy faculties set an example of perfection and was called the perfect man was Muhammad (peace be upon him).”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat urges the immediate release of the five persons imprisoned and for all charges to be dropped. In a country which seeks to promote an image of tolerance to the Western world, it speaks volumes that peace loving children have been charged with an offence that sanctions the death penalty as a sentence.
The International Community, Media and Human Rights organizations are all urged to take action to secure the release of all of the accused in this matter. In an era where freedom of religion and belief is accepted as a basic human right throughout the world it is of disbelief that anti-Ahmadiyya legislation is still active and indeed still being so cruelly enforced in Pakistan.
Please raise awareness of this issue by writing to your local MP, newspaper editors and authorities in Pakistan. This is further evidence of how democracy & justice in Pakistan is bowing & succumbing to extremist fundamentalists. Even the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has condemned this act.