LAHORE: A religious organisation has postponed the staging of a protest demonstration in Rabwah by 15 days after district authorities promised to redress its grievances.
The organisation had originally planned to stage the demonstration on December 26. A representative of the organisation told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the organisation had decided to postpone the protest by 15 days after receiving assurances from district authorities. He said the organisation would stage nationwide demonstrations if the government did not accept its demands.
The organisation had asked the Ahmadi residents of Rabwah to immediately remove Quranic verses and the Islamic references from all Ahmadi buildings. The organisation said it would be forced to take unilateral action if the community failed to follow its diktat. Provocative material against the community has been in circulation for two weeks. The initiative has been taken to muster public support for the planned demonstration. The Express Tribune has learnt that graffiti sympathetic to the organisation has started appearing on walls and regular announcements are being made through loudspeakers at mosques to gather great support for the event.
Anti-Ahmadiyya conferences are routinely organised during Rabiul Awal nationwide. Some speeches delivered at these conferences usually result in compromising the life and property of Ahmadis.
The Sargodha chapter of the organisation and several leaders of traders’ associations including Sargodha Anjuman-i-Tajiran vice-president Chaudhry Muhammad Jehangir Kamboh, Millat Bazaar senior vice-president Sheikh Muhammad Naeem and Millat Bazaar general-secretary Malik Tauseef had given the call for the protest. The demonstration was slated to start from the organisation’s academy in Lakkar Mandi but its final destination had not been revealed to the consternation of the Ahmadiyya community.
In an application to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, IGP Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera and district officials, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA) Spokesperson Saleemuddin had warned that the protest could spark anti-Ahmadiyya unrest. He said most of Rabwah’s residents were Ahmadis who constantly feared for their lives due to the antics of such elements. Saleemuddin said the protest could result in loss of life if it turned violent. He said the organisation should not be permitted to stage the demonstration as the law and order situation in the country was not conducive to holding rallies. Saleemuddin urged the government to take steps to secure the life and property of Rabwah’s residents and stop the protest from being staged.
Saleemuddin told The Express Tribune that unsubstantiated allegations were made against the community in the pamphlets published by the organisation to stir anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments. He said community members were always advised to remain vigilant during September and Rabiul Awal as conferences against the community were routinely organised in these months. Saleemuddin said September 7, the day when the community was declared non-Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution, was marked by some people as Anti-Ahmadi Day.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2014.