Pranab may attend Ahmadiyya congregation in Punjab

December 23rd, 2009 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Chandigarh, Dec 23 (IANS) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to attend the Salaana Jalsa (annual congregation) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at its international headquarters at Qadian town in Punjab’s border district of Gurdaspur, around 250 km from here.
“Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will come here to attend Salaana Jalsa on December 27. He will spend several hours here and also visit various holy places associated with the founder of the Ahmadiyya sect,” a sect spokesperson said Wednesday.

That Mukherjee is attending the sect congregation is being seen with a lot of political and diplomatic significance especially in the wake of recent reports about harassment of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan.

Considered a renegade sect by Shia and Sunni Muslims, the Ahmadiyyas, who advocate peaceful co-existence and have often expressed anguish against rising Islamic fundamentalism, live in several countries.

Qadian, a small town in Punjab, is the birthplace of the sect which was founded in the late 19th century (1889) by Muslim spiritual leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Over 20,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims are expected to participate in the three-day event, from Dec 26-28, which will include a sermon by the present khalifatul (spiritual head), Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, which will be telecast live at the venue from his London home.

The Ahmadiyya congregation last year (December) was cancelled by the sect following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

The sect’s London-based spiritual head, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who was touring Tamil Nadu and Kerala when the Mumbai carnage took place, was advised by security agencies to return to London. India has issued nearly 5,000 visas to Pakistan-based Ahmadiyya devotees who are coming here to attend the congregation.

In Pakistan Ahmadiyyas are considered non-Muslims under law and subjected to religious and social persecution.

Though Ahmadiyyas reside in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia - all countries having substantial Muslim population, hundreds of them are settled in Britain and other western countries.

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