Pak authorities demolish minarets of old worship place of Ahmadi community in Punjab province Community body

Lahore, Dec 22 (PTI) Pakistani authorities on Friday demolished the minarets of a 67-year-old worship place of the minority Ahmadi community in Punjab province, an official of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said.
    Police personnel were seen demolishing the minarets of the Ahmadi worship place at the Samundri, Faisalabad, some 130 km from Lahore, on Friday.
    "Desecration of Ahmadi places of worship continues with impunity. On Friday, police officials along with the assistant commissioner destroyed the minarets of an Ahmadi worship place in Samundri, Faisalabad," Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan official Amir Mahmood told PTI.
    Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan is the highest and the sole body representing the sect in the country.
    He said the Ahmadi worship place was constructed in 1956 and has been under threat since last year from radical Islamists.
    The Ahmadi community in Pakistan has often come under attack for their religious practice.
    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 before a particular ordinance issued in 1984 are legal and hence should not be altered or razed down.
    The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said that on Friday after demolishing the minarets, the police also took away the debris with them.
    This is the 42nd desecration of Ahmadi worship places this year alone.
    "As many as 42 incidents of desecration of our worship places in Pakistan mostly in Punjab have taken place this year alone in various parts of Pakistan mostly in Punjab," Mahmood said.
    Most Ahmadi worship places have come under attack by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists while in other incidents police on the pressure of religious extremists demolished minarets, and arches and removed sacred writings.
    The TLP says that Ahmadi worship places are similar to that of Muslim Mosques because they have minarets.
    Mahmood said that not a single case against the religious extremists has been registered so far for attacking and damaging the Ahmadi worship places.
    The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said that the situation is becoming worse day by day for the already marginalized 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.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)