Image Source : REUTERS Eid al-Adha celebrations in Pakistan

Islamabad: The Ahmadi community in Pakistan has been reeling under relentless persecution from authorities and radical Islam groups, which was once again highlighted when 36 members of the community were arrested in the country on charges of sacrificing animals on Eid-al-Adha, as they are recognised as non-Muslims in Pakistan. Animal sacrifice is a routine practice in Pakistan during Eid, but is banned for Ahmadis.

The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan, which represents the minority community in the country, accused authorities of preventing Ahmadis from offering their religious rites within the confinement of their homes during Eid and detaining people with their sacrificial animals, citing grave violations of human rights.

“At least 36 members of the minority Ahmadi community have been arrested for offering sacrificial animals for slaughter on Eid-ul Adha in the country mostly in Punjab province,” Amir Mahmood, an official of the organisation, told news agency PTI. “Preventing Ahmadis from offering their religious rites within the confinement of four walls is a grave violation of their human rights as well as a clear violation of the judgements by the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” he added.

‘Police joining hands with extremists’

Mahmood alleged that the radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbiak Pakistan (TLP) has been fanning hatred against Ahmadis and pressuring police to stop members of the minority community from performing their religious rituals. Members of the community were being harassed particularly in the Punjab province by extremists and law enforcement officials alike, he said.

According to the official, Ahmadis were even stopped from offering Eid prayers on Monday and the police are calling in Ahmadiyya leadership in various police stations and threatening them with “immediate danger” from the TLP in case any Ahmadi is found performing the ‘Qurbani’ or offering Eid prayers.

“It has come to be known that the intelligence agencies have also issued a threat alert on the occasion of Eid against Ahmadis,” Mahmood said. The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan has demanded the immediate release of the Ahmadis detained on Eid and urged authorities to take steps to ensure their religious freedom.

Persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan

Earlier, the police in Pakistan’s Punjab province, allegedly under pressure of the radical Islamist party, reportedly destroyed the tombstones of 17 graves of the minority Ahmadi community in the Punjab province on Saturday, the second such incident last week. “The TLP activists had been threatening the Ahmadi community and pressuring police to demolish the tombstones of Ahmadi graves. The Ahmadi community living there is feeling vulnerable because of the law enforcers’ support to the illegal demand of extremists,” Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said in a statement on Saturday.

Ahmadis are one of the most vulnerable minority communities in Pakistan and are often targeted by religious extremists. Most Ahmadi worship places have come under attack by TLP activists while in other incidents police on the pressure of religious extremists demolished minarets, and arches, and removed sacred writings.

Although Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were not just banned from calling themselves Muslims but were also barred from practising aspects of Islam. These include constructing or displaying any symbol that identifies them as Muslims such as building minarets or domes on mosques, or publicly writing verses from the Quran.

The TLP says constructing or displaying any symbol that identifies Ahmadis as Muslims such as building minarets or domes on mosques, or publicly writing verses from the Quran is not acceptable. The hate campaign against the Ahmadi community in Pakistan is reportedly at an all-time high and two of its members were shot dead by a teenager allegedly for their faith in Punjab earlier this month.

(with inputs from PTI)

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