Pakistan urged to spare five Ahmadiyyas facing death for blasphemy

February 4th, 2009 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Feb 4 (IANS) Ahmadiyya Muslims in Canada have urged Pakistan to immediately release five members of the community facing charges of blasphemy, which is punishable by death.The five - a man and four children - were arrested in Kot Sultan in Layyah district of Pakistan Jan 28 for allegedly writing the name of Prophet Mohammed on the walls of a washroom of the local Jamia Gulzar-e-Medina mosque.

Under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment.

A statement issued here by the Ahmadiyya community named the five as Mubashar Ahmad,50, Tahir Imran,16, Naseer Ahmad,14, Muhammad Irfan,14, and Tahir Mahmood,14.

“The allegations (against the five Ahmadiyyas) are completely false and baseless. Police have no evidence whatsoever and have merely succumbed to the pressure of those who spread religious hatred in the region,” the statement quoted Salim-ud-Din, spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan, as saying.

Lal Khan Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada, said since Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has violated its Articles 14 and 37 by arresting four Ahmadiyya children.

Even though Pakistan “states that it protects religious minorities and upholds the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, it persists in the persecution of a peaceful and law-abiding community”, he said.

Malik said Pakistan should fulfil its international commitments by releasing the four innocent children who face the death penalty.

The statement said “the entire Ahmadiyya population in Kot Sultan is under siege. Throughout the town, inflammatory posters are on display and religious extremists have called for the social and economic boycott of Ahmadiyyas”.

The statement said the Ahmadiyya faith revered Prophet Mohammed as the “final law-bearing prophet and any show of disrespect towards him is inconceivable by any of its members”.

There are about 50,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims in Canada, with most of them concentrated in Calgary city. In fact, the city’s rich community created history last year by unveiling North America’s largest mosque - named Baitan Nur - at a cost of $15 million.

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