05/30/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Rabwa, police ban great Ahmadiyya celebration

Qaiser Felix
The government prohibits members of the community, considered a sect of Islam, from celebrating the centenary of the khilafat, the "system of spiritual succession" according to Ahmadiyya teaching. For the community's spokesman, this is just the latest violation of human rights taking place in Pakistan.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Pakistani government has prohibited the Ahmadiyya community of Rabwa, one of the largest in the world, from celebrating the great feast of khilafat: this is the system of succession of Islamic prophets, and is considered heretical by Sunni and Shiite Muslims.  Federal police agents interrupted the celebrations, and put the promoters of the initiative under house arrest.

This is confirmed to AsiaNews by Saleem-ud-din, spokesman for the community, who says: "The agents came and prohibited us from marching, community meals, even from using fireworks.  This is nothing but the latest violation of human rights in Pakistan". Anthony Nadeem, a member of the Pakistan human rights commission, confirms: "what has taken place constitutes a serious violation of the declaration of human rights, and of the national constitution".

Nadeem, who visited Rabwa to collect eyewitness reports, recounts: "the police arrested Mirza Younas, a local merchant, because he was selling coloured banners and hats with blessings for the centenary".  Other abuses of this kind have been seen all over the area, but now the Ahmadiyya community will seek to obtain the release of its members.  None of those arrested, in fact, has been charged with anything. 

The Ahmadiyya claim to be Muslim, but they do not recognise Mohammed as the last prophet: for this reason, they are considered heretics, and suffer severe violence and ostracism on the part of fundamentalists in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.  The Pakistani community is composed of about three million members, most of whom live in Punjab.

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