PAKISTAN: An Editor's life under serious threat following the publication of an autobiography of an Ahmadi Judge

Asian Human Rights Commission —

Dear friends,

The  Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an editor and publisher is facing serious threats to his life from Muslim militants for publishing an autobiography of a retired judge of the Lahore High Court who hails from the Ahmadi sect.   According to reports the religious extremists have raided the office of the Editor together with a contingent of police forces and have confiscated the books including also other books in his office. Other books, such as publications of the government of Punjab, on poetry as well as a physics book were also confiscated, claiming they were against Islam.

The Editor, had been retained in police custody overnight and it is reported that the extremists groups have not allowed the police to release him having found no evidence of the books being against the Islamic religion. AHRC learns that the extremist groups had stayed overnight at the police station not allowing his release, and that later he was released early morning the following day , after the extremists group has dispersed.

According to further information received, following the forced closure of the publication house, by the extremist group , and following threats to his life,  the Editor together with his family have fled Lahore.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Mr. Muhhamad Shoaib Adil, editor of the Monthly Naya Zamana magazine and publisher of Naya Zamana publications in Lahore, was taken into custody on June 12 at around 5.30 in the evening following the raid of his offices by more than a dozen militants from the religious extremist group Khatm-e-Nabuwat and several policemen from the Civil Lines police station in Lahore. During this raid all his books and publications have been confiscated.

According to reports the Muslim fundamentalist group had arrived on motor bikes ,led by one Muhammad Hasan Muawiya, and had coerced the police to arrest Mr. Adil on charges of Blasphemy.  The leader of the group, Muawiyya is an infamous extremist who operates in the city of Lahore, he maintains close connections with the provincial government officers and it is learnt that the police too are generally in support of his actions and is even known to follow his orders.

As per reports, police have raided Mr. Adil’s publication house on the information provided to them by Mauwiyya that  blasphemous material is being published at the Naya Zamana publication house, which are derogatory to the last Prophet of Islam (PBUH). According to reports police have been unable to find any such blasphemous material.  However, the extremist groups had then, searched the office and confiscated many books including a book based an auto biography of a retired judge of Lahore high court titled  ‘Adalat-e-Aalia tak ka safar’,  a book based on translation of PhD thesis on the works of Dr. Abdul Salam, a Noble laureate of Physics, a book on judicial inquiry of Justice Munir, books on poetry, fiction, philosophy and natural sciences, some which have been which were gifted to as a routine to printers and publishers.

Following the raid and his custody by the police, Mr. Adil had been taken to the police station in a police van and more than two dozen extremists were following on motor bikes under the leadership of Muawiyya. At the Civil Lines police station, all printed material had been checked again in the presence of religious militants where they found that the autobiography of retired judge, justice Islam Bhatti, was published in 2007 was Blasphemous although the publication had no reference whatsoever to the Ahmadi sect. The book speaks of Justice Bhatti’s career as a lawyer and a judge at the Lahore High Court. Although police have refused to institute a Blasphemy case the militants had insisted that the autobiography is written by an Ahmadi therefore Mr.  Adil be charged for Blasphemy. Likewise another publication, based on translation of PhD thesis on the works of Dr. Abdul Salam, a Noble laureate of Physics, a book on judicial inquiry of Justice Munir, published in 1954 but as the copy rights was finished in 2004 it was re-printed in 2006, and many other books on poetry, fiction, philosophy and natural sciences, which were gifted to as a routine to printers and publishersThe police have refused these demands.

It is learnt that during this time a crowd of about more than 300 persons had gathered outside the police station and called for Mr. Adil’s release so that they can punish him in their fashion. The efforts to subdue the crowds by Senior police officers have failed with the crowds refusing to leave the area. According to reports, the crowds have remained, surrounding the police station and once they have dispersed Police have released Mr. Adil in the early hours of the next morning.

Following Mr Adil’s release, extremists groups have gathered near the police station and staged a protest for two days calling an inquiry against the police officers for releasing Mr Adil without charges and called for Mr Adil to be punished with death.

The AHRC learns that following Mr Adil’s ordeal with the religious extremist, he has left Lahore with his family and is in hiding, fearing for his life since the Khat-e-Nabuwwat’s announcement to all its branches across the country that Mr Adil be killed if found.  They have distributed his photographs, and his office is under constant vigilance by these extremists. Further, the extremists have declared that Justice Bhatti’s assistant, Ahmed Tahir Mirza, who compiled the autobiography, also as a blasphemer and extremists are on the lookout for him too.

The AHRC also learns that another activist of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Qari  Rafiq, has filed a petition against the Mr Adil,  in the Additional Session Court to for charges of blasphemy under section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code accusing him of posing as a Muslim despite being an Ahmadi . The session court had fixed the date of next hearing for the 18 June 2014 and has issued notice to the police for the reply of questions raised by the petitioner. According to sources on the date of the said hearing on 18 June,  police had not been present in court, as they  could not find any evidence about Mr Adil  being an Qadiani or an Ahmadi.  The petitioner, Qari Rafiq has been involved in the past in forcefully grabbing land belonging to Christians on false allegations of them desecration the Quranic versus.

The Urdu monthly magazine, Naya Zamana, is popular in Punjab province for its liberal and progressive writing.  It is also popular among religious minority groups, the Christians, the Hindus, Ahmadis and Shia sects as it gives more coverage to the persecution of religious minorities.

Further, the main perpetrator, Hasan Muawiyya, the leader of the extremist group to be a close friend of provincial law minister who provides him impunity. His elder brother, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, is the Islamic religious leader and chief of Council of Ulemas (religious leaders) who claims he has no control over his younger sibling. The AHRC also learns that several attempts by even religious leaders to approach Khatm-e-Nabuwaat in order to settle the issue have failed. The leaders of the Khatm-e-Nabuwatt extremist groups have warned that it is too late and that the call to kill his has been communicated country wide and there is no stopping it.

Further references can be accessed at  http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FPR-008-2013?searchterm=hasan+muawiya

Due to the rise in religious extremism in Pakistan, the lives of many moderates who believe in rationality and pluralism and of those who advocate human rights and the rights of minorities are under constant and serious threat.

Whilst expressing outrage and anger over the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan, the intelligentsia and civil society in general in Pakistan are demanding prompt and immediate action in this regard both from the government and human rights organisations. Mr Adil’s magazine is a proponent of this enlightenment way of thinking. Mr Shoaib Adil writes against religious extremism and in support of rights of religious minority groups. His media house is well known for its progressive, enlightenment and in promoting peace. The editor was called an Ahmadi, for the publication of an autobiography of a retired judge from the Ahmadiyya community.

He has been publishing many such progressive books on different topics for the past 14 years. He is an outstanding spokesman for the good relations between India and Pakistan .He was threatened with death many a times in the past and yet again he is charged with blasphemy and is hiding in fear of his life.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Pakistan is today categorized amongst the failed States because of its indifferent attitude towards religious minorities. It is incapable of providing safety and security for its citizens and its irresponsible enforcement of blasphemy laws, which are grossly abused.

Freedom of expression is now so limited in Pakistan due to the various laws, including the blasphemy laws and the Official Secret Act of 1923 which generated intolerance in the society at every level. The only group that benefits from this Act is the terrorists and the state intelligence agencies. Therefore the government must follow Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which has already been ratified by Pakistan. This Article provides space for the freedom of expression and a society based on tolerance.

The Muslim pressure groups are so strong that the police always follow the dictate of these bigots who show their power through the illegal misuse of mosques loudspeakers. The mosques, by law, are not allowed to use loudspeakers for any other purpose than calling (Azan) for prayers but there is no political will to stop them using the loudspeakers for any purpose they chose.

The blasphemy law now stands as a tool of oppression in hands of those who refuse to wait for the process of law. They are sitting in judgment and executing punishment to innocent people. This demonstrates that state structure is crumbling and there is no rule of law.

The whole society has been made hostage at the hands of these religious extremist. These religious extremists are militarized and lethally armed and trained for total destruction and annihilation. They are spread all over, in different tiers of government and in our neighborhoods as well. Their net work is very strong and wide. The number of maddrassas and militia training centers are grown beyond proportions.

The law is supposed to be enforced and administered by the courts of law. But in the case of accusation of blasphemy, the law stops to operate. The fundamental right that every citizen shall have equal protection of law and shall be accorded due process of law as enshrined in our constitution is completely defeated because the religious fundamentalists take law in their own hands and start administering punishment to such an accused without according him an opportunity of trial. They impose punishment by killing him publically or in jail and also torch their houses and worship places.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write  letters to the authorities calling for  immediate protection to Mr. Shoiab Adil and his family members who are under life threat from Muslim extremists for printing academic material and raising the voice of religious minority groups which remain always under threat from religious extremist groups in Pakistan.  Please also urge the government to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators for blaming any person a blasphemer, for even expressing a difference of opinion.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Question of Freedom of expression, human rights defenders calling for their intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:  

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ………………..,

PAKISTAN: An Editor’s life under serious threat following the publication of an autobiography of an Ahmadi Judge

Name of victim:

Mr. Muhhamad Shoaib Adil, editor of Monthly Naya Zamana and publisher of Naya Zamana publications, Mian Chambers, 3 Temple road, Lahore, Punjab

Names of alleged perpetrators:

Mr. Hasan MuawiyyaKhatm-e-Nabuwat, Lahore, Punjabaj

Qari Rafiq, Khatn-e-Nabuwat, Lahore, Punjab

Date of incident: 12 June, 2014

Place of incident: Mian Chambers, 3 Temple Road, Lahore

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding life threat to a publisher and editor of Naya Zamana publications, from the Muslim extremists who belong to Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Lahore. His whole family is under life threat and extremists are accusing him of Ahmadi as he publishes progressive, enlightened material and also provides good coverage of news regarding persecutions against religious minority groups.

I was concerned to note that Mr. Muhhamad Shoaib Adil, editor of the Monthly Naya Zamana magazine and publisher of Naya Zamana publications in Lahore, had been taken into custody on June 12 at around 5.30 in the evening following the raid of his offices by more than a dozen militants from the religious extremist group Khatm-e-Nabuwat and several policemen from the Civil Lines police station in Lahore and during this raid all his books and publications have been confiscated.

According to reports the Muslim fundamentalist group had arrived on motor bikes ,led by one Muhammad Hasan Muawiya, and had coerced the police to arrest Mr. Adil on charges of Blasphemy.  The leader of the group, Muawiyya is an infamous extremist who operates in the city of Lahore, he maintains close connections with the provincial government officers and it is learnt that the police too are generally in support of his actions and is even known to follow his orders.

As per reports, police have raided Mr. Adil’s publication house on the information provided to them by Mauwiyya that  blasphemous material is being published at the Naya Zamana publication house, which are derogatory to the last Prophet of Islam (PBUH). According to reports police have been unable to find any such blasphemous material.  However, the extremist groups had then, searched the office and confiscated many books including a book based an auto biography of a retired judge of Lahore high court titled  ‘Adalat-e-Aalia tak ka safar’,  a book based on translation of PhD thesis on the work of Dr. Abdul Salam, a Noble laureate of Physics, a book on judicial inquiry of Justice Munir, books on poetry, fiction, philosophy and natural sciences, some which have been which were gifted to as a routine to printers and publishers.

Following the raid and his custody by the police, Mr. Adil had been taken to the police station in a police van and more than two dozen extremists were following on motor bikes under the leadership of Muawiyya. At the Civil Lines police station, all printed material had been checked again in the presence of religious militants where they found that the autobiography of retired judge, justice Islam Bhatti, was published in 2007 was Blasphemous although the publication had no reference whatsoever to the Ahmadi sect. The book speaks of Justice Bhatti’s career as a lawyer and a judge at the Lahore High Court. Although police have refused to institute a Blasphemy case the militants had insisted that the autobiography is written by an Ahmadi therefore Mr.  Adil be charged for Blasphemy. Likewise another publication, based on translation of PhD thesis on the works of Dr. Abdul Salam, a Noble laureate of Physics, a book on judicial inquiry of Justice Munir, published in 1954 but as the copy rights was finished in 2004 it was re-printed in 2006, and many other books on poetry, fiction, philosophy and natural sciences, which were gifted to as a routine to printers and publishersThe police have refused these demands.

I have learnt during this time a crowd of about more than 300 persons had gathered outside the police station and called fo Mr. Adil’s release and efforts to subdue the crowds by Senior police officers have failed  with the crowds refusing to leave the area. According to reports, the crowds have remained, surrounding the police station and once they have dispersed Police have released Mr. Adil in the early hours of the next morning.

Following Mr. Adil’s release, extremists groups have gathered near the police station and staged a protest for two days calling an inquiry against the police officers for releasing Mr Adil without charges and called for Mr Adil to be punished with death.

I have also received information that  following Mr Adil’s ordeal with the religious extremist, he has left Lahore with his family and is in hiding, fearing for his life since the Khat-e-Nabuwwat’s announcement to all its branches across the country that Mr Adil be killed if found.  They have distributed his photographs, and his office is under constant vigilance by these extremists. Further, the extremists have declared that Justice Bhatti’s assistant, Ahmed Tahir Mirza, who compiled the autobiography, also as a blasphemer and extremists are on the lookout for him too.

I am also aware that in yet another attack , another activist of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Qari  Rafiq, has filed a petition against the Mr Adil,  in the Additional Session Court to for charges of blasphemy under section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code accusing him of posing as a Muslim despite being an Ahmadi . The session court  had fixed the date of next hearing for the 18 of June 2014  and has issued notice to the police for the reply of questions raised by the petitioner. According to sources on the date of the said hearing on 18 June, police had not been present in court, as they could not find any evidence about Mr Adil being an Qadiani or an Ahmadi.  The petitioner, Qari Rafiq has been involved in the past in forcefully grabbing land belonging to Christians on false allegations of them desecration the Quranic versus.

I understand that the Urdu monthly magazine, Naya Zamana, is popular in Punjab province for its liberal and progressive writing.  It is also popular among religious minority groups, the Christians, the Hindus, Ahmadis and Shia sects as it gives more coverage to the persecution of religious minorities.

I have also learnt that the main perpetrator, Hasan Muawiyya, the leader of the extremist group to be a close friend of provincial law minister who provides him impunity. Muawiyya’s elder brother, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, is the Islamic religious leader and chief of Council of Ulemas (religious leaders) who claims he has no control over his younger sibling. The AHRC also learns that several attempts by even religious leaders to approach Khatm-e-Nabuwaat in order to settle the issue have failed. The leaders of the Khatm-e-Nabuwatt extremist groups have warned that it is too late and that the call to kill his has been communicated country wide and there  is no stopping it.

Due to the rise in religious extremism in Pakistan, the lives of many moderates who believe in rationality and pluralism and of those who advocate human rights and the rights of minorities are under constant and serious threat.

Whilst expressing outrage and anger over the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan, the intelligentsia and civil society in general in Pakistan are demanding prompt and immediate action in this regard both from the government and human rights organisations. Mr Adil’s magazine is a proponent of this enlightenment way of thinking. Mr Shoaib Adil writes against religious extremism and in support of rights of religious minority groups. His media house is well known for its progressive, enlightenment and in promoting peace. The editor was called an Ahmadi, for the publication of an autobiography of a retired judge from the Ahmadiyya community.

Mr Adil has been publishing many such progressive books on different topics for the past 14 years. He is an outstanding spokesman for the good relations between India and Pakistan .He was threatened with death many a  times in the past and yet again he is charged with blasphemy and is hiding in fear of his life.

I urge you to intervene in calling all authorities concerned for the immediate protection to Mr. Shoiab Adil and his family members who are under life threat from Muslim extremists for printing academic material and raising the voice of religious minority groups which remain always under threat from religious extremist groups in Pakistan.  I also urge the government to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and bring them to book for blaming any person a blasphemer, for even expressing a difference of opinion.

Yours sincerely,

……………….

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Mamnoon Hussain
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk or pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

3. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan
Federal Minister for Interior
R Block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9202624
Email: interior.complaintcell@gmail.com or ministry.interior@gmail.com

4. Mr. Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister
Government of Punjab Province
Chief Minister’s Secretariat
5-Club Road, GOR-I, Lahore, Punjab
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99205065
Email: cmcomplaintcell@cmpunjab.gov.pk

5. Mr. Pervez Rashid
Federal Minister
Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue, G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

6. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9213452
Email: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

send-button.gif

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Origional Post here:  http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-094-2014

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