A mob led by right-wing Muslim clerics tore down the dome and minarets of a 100-year old Pakistani mosque belonging to the marginalised Ahmadi community, officials and the community said on Thursday.
Ahmadis are one of the most persecuted groups in Sunni-majority Pakistan, with Islamists and religious hardliners labelling them heretics, while harsh Pakistani laws ban them from calling themselves Muslims or using Islamic symbols.
Saleemuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said a mob stormed the mosque complex in Sialkot, near the Indian border in Punjab province, overnight. He put the number at several hundred.
He said there was collusion between the mob and local government officials, but police denied such accusations.
Asad Sarfraz, a police official, said municipal government officials were at the mosque complex removing what he called “illegal renovation”.
“An emotionally charged mob of people belonging to different groups and segments of society reached there and damaged several parts of the building,” Sarfraz said.
Sarfraz said about 60-70 people were involved and authorities were attempting to identify the attackers.
Saleemuddin denied the renovation work was illegal and said the community had obtained permission from the local government to upgrade the building. He later shared an application approved by the municipal government to prove the fact.
A social media video of the attack’s aftermath shows a crowd cheering a local cleric, who then claims to have ransacked the mosque.
The Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslims but their recognition of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the sect in British-ruled India in 1889, as a “subordinate prophet” is viewed by many of the Sunni majority as a breach of the Islamic tenet that the Prophet Mohammad was God’s last direct messenger, reports Reuters.
© 2017 - All Rights with The Financial Express