Archive for June, 2010

Do we really need to repeal laws?

By:  NAQAD

On May 28th, 2010 Pakistan witnessed a black Friday. More than 80 Pakistani citizens were butchered as they congregated to offer their prayers. The atrocity has every sensible Pakistani shaken or shocked. However, in land of pure, using the opportunity to settle personal prejudice is nothing new and seems to be the order of the day. The incident triggered a chain of continuous and voluminous claims that Ahmadis are state persecuted.

The butchery of Lahore was hijacked for revocation of constitutionalamendment and Ordinance. Putting the blame on the 2nd Amendment and Ordinance XX is a façade. Why? Let us cross examine the said Ordinance with the Articles 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 25 and 28.

Ordinance XX.

Ahmadis are barred from preaching or professing their beliefs, to call themselves or pose as Muslims. For them to Offer their prayers in Non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms became illegal. They were prohibited from calling their place of worship mosque, performing Azaan, publicly using traditional Islamic symbols, greetings, quoting from the Quran, publishing and disseminating their religious materials. The above forbidden acts can lead to imprisonment of upto 3 years.

Ahmadis themselves were the reason for such strict measure. It was there continuous and never ending preaching that formed the basis for Ordinance XX instigated by religious groups. In the words of experienced columnist Athar Abbas, Express “Preaching is the worst habit of Ahmadis. This is the single reason why they entice violent acts upon themselves.” Athar also shared a couple of personal and first hand experiences.

Having similar outlooks, displaying identical rituals and symbols made common Muslims an easy target of Ahmadis. Posing as Muslims they recruited converts thus deviating innocent and unsuspecting Muslims away from Islam. Hence it became imminent, in the greater public interest, to deprive them of their cover. Why are they adamant on preaching their beliefs? The answer was given by Mirza Nasir during parliamentary debate in 1974. “Muslims not conforming to Ahmadiya beliefs are infidels” he stated.

Now let us move to the often mentioned Articles which the infamous Ordinance contradicts.

Article 14. Inviolability of dignity of man, etc.

  1. The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable.
  2. No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.

Ahmadis are not under continous surveillance nor are they required to report what they do in their personal lives. Infact, there are countless ahmadis amid us who lead their lives unnoticed. Secondly, Ahmadis are not rounded up, arrested or later tortured for extracting information by the police or other law enforcement agencies. Excesses if any have died with the dictatorship which exhibited unrestrained behavior against political activists and other threats.

Article 16. Freedom of assembly.

Every citizen shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order.

The fact that more than 1500 Ahmadis were present in prayer houses refutes the claim pertaining to the violation of article 16.

Article 19. Freedom of speech, etc.

Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court (commission of) or incitement of an offence.

The article is defends the Ordinance XX when it provisions that restrictions can be imposed in the interest of glory of Islam.

Article 20. Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.

Subject to law, public order and morality:

a)      Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion; and

b)     Every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.

Athar Abbas in his column wrote the following incident.  A few days earlier if village elders hadn’t succeeded in pacifying the threat to public order was very well on the cards at Shakar Garh. It so happened that an Ahmadi student and a zamindar’s ward played together. The ahmadi used to propagate Ahmadiya beliefs to his playmate and how by converting the later could enjoy benefits of living in US, Britain and Germany. Annoyed the boy turned to his parents and it enticed hostility amongst Muslim of the area. Fortunately, before any mishaps the area elders intervened and hushed the matter beneath carpet.

Hence the Ordinance does not contradict rather complements the Article 20 of the constitution.

Article 22. Safeguards as to educational institutions in respect of religion, etc.

  1. No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own.
  2. In respect of any religious institution, there shall be no discrimination against any community in the granting of exemption or concession in relation to taxation.
  3. Subject to law:
    1. no religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instructions for pupils of that community or denomination in any educational institution maintained wholly by that community or denomination; and
    2. no citizen shall be denied admission to any educational institution receiving aid from public revenues on the ground only of race, religion, caste or place of birth.

Law does not stop Ahmadis from preaching their beliefs to members of their community and only bars public professing. Other than confusing prayer halls with educational institutions I don’t see any contradiction in the above Article and Ordinance XX.

Article 25. Equality of citizens.

  1. All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.
  2. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.
  3. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection women and children.

The Ordinance does not state that Ahmadis are not liable to government protection or allowed to file petitions with the court of law pertaining to regular social and business matters. It does not state that they are lesser mortals and can be deprived of their valuable or even life when and as Muslims please. Twin attacks in Lahore were a heinous criminal act and perpetrators should be awarded due punishment.

Article 28. Preservation of language, script and culture.

Subject to Article 251 any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture shall have the right to preserve and promote the same and subject to law, establish institutions for that purpose.

Ahmadi worship centers are neither attacked nor their scriptures burned by state agencies. The Government prohibited mass scale printing for public distribution and not amongst the Ahmadi community.

The much dreaded Ordinance doesn’t violate the constitution of 1973 and hence can not be held responsible for the mayhem of May 28th, 2010.

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