An Ahmadi place of worship — File Photo
An Ahmadi place of worship — File Photo

RAWALPINDI: According to Saleemuddin, spokesperson of Ahmadiyya community, Ahmadis were restricted from offering Eid prayers at Ewan-e-Tauheed located at E-Block, Satellite Town, Rawalpindi reported DawnNews.

Saleemuddin said, “Ewan-e-Tauheed is where most of us offered Eid and Friday prayers, however, the situation changed nine months ago when a hate campaign against our community enticed residents of the area to restrict our activities. Prior to the Eid prayers, we sought approval from the local law enforcement agencies to let us pray on Eid or suggest an alternative site where we could congregate.”

According to Saleemuddin, police approved of the idea, however, at the last minute informed Ahmadis that it is best if they offer Eid prayers at Bait-ul-Hamd, Murree Road, which only has a capacity to accommodate 100 worshippers.

He went on to say that early in the morning, police officials surrounded Ewan-e-Tauheed to deter Ahmadis from gathering and praying.

“An estimated number of 2,000 Ahmadis were expected to congregate and offer Eid prayers, however, were unable to do so because of the sudden change of events triggered by influence of local powerful businessmen,” added Saleemuddin.

However, Azhar Hamid Khokhar, CPO Rawalpindi, denied the allegations and said, “We had made it clear to the Ahmadis that they will not be able to pray at Ewan-e-Tauheed on Eid and advised them to congregate at Bait-ul-Hamd. This was our understanding from day one”

“Local residents object to their activities and say that Block-E is a residential area and should be treated as one. Since no NOC was obtained from them before constructing this worship site, they do not feel too happy about its existence,” he added.

Sharjeel Mir, President of Anjuman-e-Tajiran Rawalpindi and a local businessman said, “We object to Ewan-e-Tauheed and all that it stands for because it was acquired through illegal means. Fifteen years ago an Ahmadi bought a house and later on donated it to the Ahamdiiya community. Since then it has been used as a praying site despite of the fact that NOC was not obtained from the district government and local residents as is required according to the law of land.”

Mir also said that Ahmadis were given no approval to offer congregational prayers on Eid by local police authorities or government.

Mir went on to add that, “In May of 2010, Ahmadis and their worshipping site were attacked in Lahore enticing people praying at Ewan-e-Tauheed to beef up security. They barricaded all the roads that led to their worshipping site. There are several mosques in the area and most of the time local residents were not allowed to pass through the barriers. Even ambulances transporting patients to and from Holy Family Hospital were stopped and not given free passage.”

Mir went on to say that Ahmadis left them with no option but to report this abuse to the local authorities who then took action against them.

“According to the constitution, Ahmadis are not allowed to call their praying sites mosques and term their call of prayers as namaz. They do not follow the rules and policies which is why we have been taking action against them. We believe in coexistence. In fact countless Christians live in Rawalpindi and we live in harmony, however, we will not have Ahmadis call themselves Muslims and go against the law. They should live like other minorities,” added Mir.