The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community strongly condemns the attempted destruction of a Mosque and a historical house in Sialkot, Pakistan, by local municipal officials and an enraged mob.
It is extremely shocking to note that local authorities were involved in this attack and did nothing to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of Ahmadi Muslims. Giving in to pressure from local religious, political and civic leaders, officials from the Municipal Committee of Sialkot City unlawfully demolished a century-old historic building. Left unchallenged by the police, local officials were soon joined by a mob of 600-700 people who proceeded to demolish an adjacent Mosque owned by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Prior to the attack and demolition, the police charged two Ahmadi Muslim representatives on the fabricated charge of ‘unlawful construction’. This was despite the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community having secured permission to carry out renovation to the house.
It is particularly disturbing that the local authorities supported the demolition. Further, that the police did nothing to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of Ahmadi Muslims.
This attack comes during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast and are taught to increase their worship and service to humanity. It is incomprehensible that the extremists and their supporters have adopted such violence and attempted to destroy a House of God during this blessed month. Whatever they have done is entirely contrary to the Holy Qur’an and the blessed example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Ahmadi Muslims living in the area of this attack are peace-loving Muslim citizens who are loyal to Pakistan and have been contributing positively towards the country since its foundation. It is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to ensure that Ahmadi Muslims are guaranteed their basic human rights. It is also up to the wider international community and media to ensure that the continued plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan is highlighted and all efforts are made to ensure justice and freedom of religion prevail.
With the permission of the local authorities, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan had been carrying out renovation work on a house situated in Sialkot. The property is of significant historical value to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as it was once resided in by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him), founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, more than a century ago.
As news of the renovation work emerged, a number of local Muslim clerics, civic leaders, politicians, and lawyers demanded that the authorities take legal action against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. According to this group, simple building work amounted to Ahmadi Muslims ‘outraging the religious feelings of Muslims.’ The police subsequently charged two Ahmadi Muslim representatives on the fabricated charge of ‘unlawful construction’.
The district administration yielded to the pressure of this group, sealed the house and prohibited Ahmadi Muslims from continuing the renovations. This did not appease the opposition group who demanded that further action be taken against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
On Wednesday 23rd May at 22:45, roughly 30-35 representatives of the Municipal Committee of Sialkot City arrived at the residence and began to demolish the house. The municipal representatives were unable to present any legal orders authorising the demolition of the property. The local police were also present during the demolition and said that while they too had no legal authorisation to allow the demolition to take place, they would permit it ‘as law and order is threatened.’ The municipal representatives were then bolstered by a mob of 600-700 people who joined them in the demolition.
Once the house was demolished, the large mob attacked a Mosque adjacent to the demolished house. During the attack, which lasted until 3am, the mob demolished the Mosque’s minarets, dome, doors, and other parts of the structure. They returned at 4.30am to vandalise what remained of the building. During the demolition of the Mosque, the municipal representatives and police observed the attack without intervening.