A judge of the Lahore High Court ruled that propagating the Ahmadi faith even through a private group is illegal.
by Massimo Introvigne
On January 16, 2022, the Lahore High Court issued its verdict on the case of Mahmood Iqbal Hashmi, Shiraz Ahmad, and Zaheer Ahmad, whose lawyers had requested bail after they had been arrested.
The three defendants are members of the Ahmadiyya Community, whose history of persecution in Pakistan we told in 2021 in a Bitter Winter series. Ahmadis are accused of recognizing their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as a prophet, being thus heretic with respect to the Islamic principle that there can be no prophet after Muhammad (in fact, their formula for Ahmad is that he was “at the same time a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet [ Muhammad]”).
The trio created a WhatsApp group called “Sindh Salamat,” through which they shared news and documents about the Ahmadi faith. One Mohammad Irfan registered a complaint against them claiming they were guilty of blasphemy, illegal religious proselytization, and “sharing a distorted version of the Holy Quran,” which is a crime under Punjab law.
Their lawyers argued that the complainant had quoted the wrong articles of both the federal and the Punjab laws he relied on, and that sharing texts of which one is not the author, even if they are regarded as objectionable, through a private WhatsApp group cannot be regarded as a crime.
Both a deputy Punjab attorney general, who appeared to support the charges, and Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh disagreed. The judge said that if anybody would be free to share texts through WhatsApp “disaster will follow,” and that the Qadianis (i.e., the Ahmadis) are heretics, and propagating their faith is not allowed in Pakistan.
The defendants remain in jail.
The sentence came just two days after another Ahmadi awaiting a final verdict for blasphemy, Ashgar Ali Klar, died in prison in Pakistan, as reported by his family on Twitter.