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Blasphemy charge on four children: Ahmadis face social boycott in Layyah village
* Minority community told to leave area by 9th
LAHORE: Ahmadis in a Layyah village are facing a social boycott after four children from the minority community were detained on charges of blasphemy last week.
Shopkeepers in Chak 172/TDA refuse to deal with Ahmadis and 10 students of a private tuition centre have been expelled because of their faith. Handbills distributed in the village tell the Ahmadis to leave by February 9, and the local MNA’s uncle heads the ‘movement’ against the community, locals said. The children and a 45-year-old fifth suspect have denied the charges – of writing blasphemous material in the latrines of the central Gulzar-e-Madina mosque – and the local police station house officer, Khalid Rauf, said there were no witnesses and no evidence.
The children were charged ostensibly because of their faith. Rauf said the case was registered because the complainants believed no Muslims could possibly commit blasphemy. The imam of the mosque has said his January 27 statement about the children’s involvement was made under pressure from a group of people that included the local head of the banned Jamaatud Dawa and some local journalists.
Qari Muhammad Saeed, the imam of Gulzar-e-Madina mosque, told Daily Times he had removed various names – such as Muhammad Imran and Hidayatullah – from the latrine walls three months ago. He said the writing over which the children have been charged was not readable. All the five suspects are in police custody.
Saeed said the local Dawa head – identified only as Shahbaz – had asked him on January 22 to stop the Ahmadi children from praying in the mosque. After the imam declined, Shahbaz stopped the children on the mosque gate on January 25. The children – who study in a nearby academy – did not visit the mosque again, Saeed said. The father of one of the detained children told Daily Times his children had stopped using the latrines too.
The principal of the Superior Science Academy – where the children studied – said he had asked the children to pray in the mosque, but told them to leave the academy after he saw the blasphemous writing. Asked how he knew they were guilty, he said: “Muslims cannot do such things” so it must be the Ahmadi children.
The vice president of the mosque’s eight-member governing body and the caretaker of the mosque said they were not sure the children were guilty and added that the case had been lodged without consulting with them.
The complainants do not belong to the village.
Abdul Majeed Bhutta, the naib nazim of the union council, said Ahmadis had been peaceful and that the charge had likely been made because of vested interests.
Local residents said that the banned organisation had hijacked the mosque and the academy principal wanted to occupy the premises – owned by an Ahmadi. Noor Elahi Kulachi, a member of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and one of the first people to make the allegation, had also lodged a blasphemy case against an Ahmadi in 1992, the head of the Ahmadiyya community in Layyah said.