Pakistan: Mob attacks and torches mosque of persecuted Ahmadi sect

Thousands of Sunni Muslims marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed attacked a mosque belonging to the persecuted Ahmadi minority and set fire to it, Pakistani officials said.

Those inside the mosque reportedly refused to obey mob demands to hand over the building to them, and barricaded themselves inside.

The mob of around 1,000 people threw stones and bricks at the mosque in the Chakwal district, just outside Islamabad, before storming the building, district deputy commissioner Mahmood Javed Bhatti told AP.

In a tweet, the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan said it was “deeply concerned” at reports of the “mob attack” on the mosque, and had received reports that a person had been killed in the attack. However local police inspector Muhammad Nawaz told Dawn there were no casualties.

After police persuaded those inside the mosque to leave, the mob torched parts of it, a Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesman told the Express Tribune. The spokesman said there were 40 members of the community in the mosque at the time of the attack. 

A police official told AP that shots were fired at Ahmadi community members.

In May 2010, 80 people were killed in grenade and gun attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. The two mosques are reportedly under heavy police guard after the government decided to rename the National Center of Physics after Nobel laureate Abdus Salam, who was an Ahmadi Muslim – leading to criticism from hardliners.

The Ahmadi faith was established in what was then British ruled India in the late 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. His followers worship Ahmad as a prophet, and have been subjected to decades of persecution in Pakistan, where they are regarded as apostates by Islamic hardliners.

Bowing to sectarian pressure, the Pakistani government declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974.

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