Pakistani clergy oppose Ahmadiya 'mini-headquarters'
Apr 26, 2007 - 3:10:52 PM

Lahore, April 26 - The Muslim clergy in Pakistan has threatened action against fencing of a plot by the minority Ahmadiya community close to the Indian border, saying it is actually meant for a 'mini-headquarters'.

Jamia Naeemia, a religious body, has said it would mobilise public opinion against the Ahmadiyas' plan to fence the plot for a graveyard if the government 'closes its eyes to such sensitive issues'.

Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, the head of Jamia and chairman of Difa-e-Islam-Mahaz -, has alleged the Ahmadiyas were actually setting up 'a mini-headquarters' of their sect.

Handu Gujjar, the village where it is being planned has only 25 Ahmadiya families. According to Naeemi, a graveyard on a six-acre plot could not be justified.

Naeemi has been accused of conducting a hate campaign against the Ahmadiyas, the Daily Times said.

Ahmadiyas, with their headquarters at Qadian, in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on the Indian side, are a sect of Islam. They were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan during the regime of Z.A. Bhutto in the 1970s and have since suffered discrimination like other minorities.

The ban on their practising Islam came despite some of the best known Pakistanis, including first foreign minister Sir Zafarullah Khan, many top army generals and civil servants and others, belong to the community. The community is also called Qadianis.

'The government should remember that according to our belief, apostates should be killed within three days. It is only the difference of opinion on this decree within Muslims that has stopped us from doing so,' the newspaper quoted Naeemi as saying.

The Ahmadiya community has meanwhile begun consulting lawyers on the issue and say they would defend their rights. The headquarters of Pakistani Ahmadiyas is at Rabwah in Punjab province.

Naeemi said Ahmadiyas had Qadian as their international headquarters in India and were planning a headquarters on the Pakistani side of the border as well. 'We do not oppose giving them rights,' he said, 'but that does not mean they can do whatever they want.'

The intentions of Ahmadis are doubtful and allowing a minority to build such a large establishment near the border was unacceptable, he said.

The community had bought six acres to extend an existing cemetery, but local clerics - allegedly from Sunni Tehrik and Tehrik-e-Tahafaz-e-Naomoos-e-Risalat - urged the people there to oppose the construction of a boundary wall.

The land was bought from an Ahmadi landlord because no local authority or housing society was prepared to offer them space for a cemetery in Lahore.

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