Lahore: More than three dozen people, said to be activists of a radical Islamist party attacked a place of worship of the Ahmadi community and demolished its minarets and terrorising them in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, an official from the minority community said on Saturday.
The attack is the latest in the series of such incidents at least 40 between January to October this year the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said.
“Over three dozen miscreants believed to be members of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) attacked the Ahmadi place of worship in Doliyan Jatan in Kotli district on Friday. The Ahmadis present in the worship places ran for their lives while the miscreants demolished its minarets and niche,” Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan official Amir Mahmood told PTI on Saturday.
The miscreants came on motorcycles and after destroying the minarets and niche of the worship place left while chanting religious slogans, he said.
This worship place was built in 1954.
The said incident occurred within the jurisdiction of police station Narr in Kotli but no FIR has been registered against the suspects as yet.
Mahmood said at least 40 worship places of the Ahmadi minority community have either been attacked by radical Islamists or their minarets and arches demolished by police in different parts of Pakistan during the first 10 months of this year.
“At least 40 incidents of desecration of our worship places in Pakistan have taken place between January and October 2023 in various parts of Pakistan. Of them, 11 occurred in Sindh province and remaining in Punjab province,” Mahmood said.
Most Ahmadi worship places have come under attack by the TLP activists while in other incidents police, on the pressure of religious extremists, demolished minarets and arches and removed sacred writings, the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan claimed.
The TLP has been claiming that Ahmadi worship places are similar to that of Muslim Mosques because they have minarets.
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.
There is a Lahore High Court ruling that states the places of worship built prior to a particular ordinance issued in 1984 are legal and hence should not be altered or razed down.
“However, not a single case against the religious extremists has been registered so far for attacking and damaging the Ahmadi worship places,” Mahmood said.
The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan says the situation is becoming worse day by day for the already marginalised Ahmadis in the country.
“Ahmadis are facing persecution at the hands of the evil elements. The acts of desecration of the places of worship in various areas of Pakistan continue unabated. It is a new norm and the authorities are doing nothing,” it said.