Persecution

A Real Life Drama

A Real Life Drama (Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry) PLACE Ahmad Pur East, PAKISTAN COURT Court of the Assistant Commissioner DATE TIME 17 March 1987 11 a.m. (These are the proceedings of the Assistant Commissioner’s Court on 17th March 1987, briefly recorded. Two Ahmadi Muslims namely Maulvi Ghulam Muhammad and Hakim Muhammad Afzal have been brought before the Court, the charges against them being “recitation of the Holy Ouran” and “possession of Kalima Tayyabah calendars”, respectively.) The Assistant Commissioner enters the room, everyone present rises up. He takes his seat and the proceedings begin. RANA SARDAR AHMAD Advocate (Non-Ahmadi) presents the bail applications on behalf of the accused Ahmadis. Asstt Commissioner: (To Rana Sardar Ahmad, Defence Lawyer) What is the case? Defence Lawyer: Section 298-C, Pakistan Penal Code, Sir. My client is charged with the recitation of the Holy Ouran! Public Prosecutor: He belongs to a minority sect – Non-Muslim minority. They have no right to recite the Holy Book. Asstt Commissioner: What is Section 298-C? Defence Lawyer: (reads the Section loudly, and then comments) There is no mention in this Section that Ahmadis cannot recite the Holy Ouran, Sir. Asstt Commissioner: (takes the Pakistan Penal Code in his hands and reads the Section himself) Well, yes. There is prohibition of preaching, of saying Azan, .and they haven’t done any preaching or called the Azan. If they read the Holy Ouran and teach to their own people – this is not barred by this section. 32 Public Prosecutor: REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Sir, they preach and hurt tlideelings of others. Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad is a Oadiani preacher. He recites the Holy Ouran in a loud voice and thus the feelings of Muslims who pass by are hurt when they listen to the recitation. Asstt Commissioner: Tell me, if a Muslim reads the Bible, will the Jews and the Christians be justified to bring about a case against him? Public Prosecutor: Defence Lawyer: Sir, the Bible is an ordinary book. If it becomes a law not to read it, we won’t even touch it. May I remind my friend that there is no law in Pakistan which forbids the recitation of the Holy Ouran. (addressing the Assistant Commissioner) Sir, the Holy Book is the word of God. It is for the whole mankind. No one has got any proprietary rights over it. If it were their own book, they could establish their right over it. Public Prosecutor: Sir, Ahmadis are non-Muslims. When they recite the Holy Ouran, our feelings are hurt. They have no right to possess the copy of the Holy Ouran. Defence Lawyer: Sir, the Public Prosecutor is hurting my feelings with those words! We have sacrificed our lives for Pakistan. – We are patriotic Pakistani citizens. (The Assistant Commissioner looks at both the Counsels and grants the bail, against fifty thousand rupees) Asstt Commissioner: What is the second case? Defence Lawyer: Public Prosecutor: Sir, same section. The charge is that the accused Ahmadi had a calendar with Kalima Tayyabah printed on them, in his shop! No Sir, this case is slightly different. The accused had hung such calendars openly, to the view of all, in his shop. By seeing these cale:ndars in an Ahmadi’s shop, the feelings of those Muslh:ts who pass by are hurt. (The Assistant Commissioner accepts the bail, against fifty thousand rupees, without any hesitation, and both “Prisoners in the Cause of Allah” come out of Jail by 3 p.m. the same day).