The US has expressed concern over a recent police raid at the Pakistan headquarters of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya in Chenab Nagar and urged the government to protect religious freedom and minorities’ rights.
“We are obviously very concerned about these reports and the Counter Terrorism Department raided the international headquarters of the Ahmadiyya…and arrested four individuals for publishing literature,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said.
Toner further said, “We have regularly noted our concerns about these laws that restrict peaceful religious expression, in particular by the Ahmadiyya community in our international religious freedom report.”
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The spokesperson went on to that that the US believed such laws were inconsistent with Pakistan’s international obligations. He urged the government to protect religious freedom and basic rights of all members of its population, including minorities.
Separately, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned the raid on the publications and audit offices of the community.
“The USCIRF condemns the brutal raid on the Ahmadiyya offices, the first such raid since Pakistan amended its constitution 42 years ago, declaring that Ahmadis non-Muslims,” USCIRF Chair Rev Thomas J Reese said.
On December 6, the CTD conducted a raid on the community’s headquarters and arrested four members over ‘hate speech’. Those taken into custody were affiliated with the community’s magazines — Al-Fazl and Tehreek-e-Jadeed.
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According to the FIR, officials conducted the raid to stop printing of ‘banned’ magazines, although the matter remains pending before Lahore High Court (LHC).
On the same day, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Spokesperson Saleemudin said the magazines were banned in December 2014 and the court subsequently granted a stay in June, 2015.
On the other hand, CTD Punjab chief Rai Muhammad Tahir said he had consulted his legal team and was informed that “there is no stay order intact until now.”
This article originally appeared on The Indian Express.
courtesy : Express Tribune