» 03/06/2008 16:24
An 80-year-old Ahmadi man arrested for blasphemy
by Qaiser Felix
Police in Kabeer wala arrest the old believer, charging him with ripping and throwing pages of the Qur‘an on the ground.
Kabeer wala (AsiaNews) – His name is Altaf Husain and he is an 80-year-old man. He was arrested by police in Kabeer wala for desecrating the Qur‘an, a crime which is punishable with life in prison according to the Pakistan Criminal Code.
The elderly man belongs to the Ahmadiyya, a Muslim religious movement condemned as heretical in 1974. With perhaps as many as 3 million followers, especially in Punjab, the Ahmadi community has suffered from harassment and persecution.
According to police, a student saw Altaf Husain rip pages out of a Qur‘an last Monday and throw them on the ground. When he shouted at him to stop, the old Ahmadi ran off.
Conversely, members of the Ahmadi community said that Altaf Husain was just reading the power meter outside his home when a madrassa student warned him that he was stepping on a page of the Qur‘an. The 80-year-old man failed to understand what the boy was saying when the latter began shouting, accusing him of blasphemy. Police arrived soon after and arrested the alleged offender.
The spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community, Saleem Ud-Din, told AsiaNews that the charges are baseless, that they are just a way to persecute Ahmadis.
For Ud-Din no one in the community could desecrate the holy text. What the community wants instead is for the government to put a stop to such incidents which are sowing hatred against the Ahmadi community.