Release British doctor accused of blasphemy: HR group
A member of the Ahmadiyya community, he was charged after a religious leader posing as a patient attended his homeopathy clinic in Lahore and secretly recorded him reading a verse from the Quran.
Glasgow-based human rights organisation Global Minorities Alliance has asked Pakistan to release 72-year-old Dr Masood Ahmad, arrested under anti-Ahmadiyya blasphemy law. He has been refused bail and is in prison awaiting trial.
Ahmad has dual citizenship and had been living in London. A member of the Ahmadiyya community, he was charged after a religious leader posing as a patient attended his homeopathy clinic in Lahore and secretly recorded him reading a verse from the Quran. There have been calls for death penalty from the angry mobs that gathered outside the court house.
Global Minorities Alliance, which advocates for the rights of minority communities the world over, denounced the imprisonment as a further example of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws being used to persecute minorities and whip up religious hatred rather than seek justice in a country increasingly divided by violence.
“While the political leadership repeatedly condemns sectarianism and extremism in public, it encourages its law officers to upgrade and intensify religious prosecution of Ahmadis,” said a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan.
Ahmadis belong to the minority Ahmadiyya sect, which has the Quran as their holy book but believes that there was a Prophet after Muhammad. In 1984, they were declared ‘non-Muslims’ under Pakistani law. The Pakistan Penal Code 298-C states:
“An Ahmadi who refers to his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims will be punished with up to three years in prison and is liable to pay a fine.”
Apart from such laws, Ahmadis are at risk because of preaching by hard-line Mullahs that killing an Ahmadi would earn someone a place in heaven.
Shahid Khan, Vice-Chairperson of Global Minorities Alliance, said, “We call on the Pakistan government to better protect its minorities to stop people like Mr Ahmad from being imprisoned over very trivial matters. We also demand that the government repeal anti-Ahmadiyya legislation... The government of Pakistan deliberately looks the other way while more and more people from various minority communities are imprisoned for blasphemy. This is discrimination rather than justice and should stop before more violent acts are committed against minorities in the name of protecting the majority.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are also used to persecute other minorities including Christians. Accusations of blasphemy are often levelled in situations where there are personal grudges to be settled or where religious extremists have preached against the community.
Source:Pakistan Christian Post