They were also charged with terrorism for selling Ahmadi books. The bitter irony in all this is that Ahmadiyya spokesmen in the West such as Qasim Rashid and Harris Zafar routinely side with groups holding the same views on Islam as those held by their persecutors in Pakistan, and tar non-Muslim defenders of the Ahmadis as “Islamophobes.”
“Ahmadi bookstore owner and manager arrested under blasphemy law,” Rabwah Times, December 12, 2015:
Pakistani authorities have arrested two Ahmadi Muslim men for alleged Blasphemy.
Bookstore owner Abul Shukoor and manager Mazhar Ahmad were arrested Wednesday, Dec. 2 from Ahmadiyya Book Depot in Rabwah. Both men were taken to an unknown location after their arrest.
According to a leaked charge sheet the men were charged under section 298-C of Pakistan’s Penal code. The infamous law prevents members of Ahmadiyya sect from preaching and calling themselves Muslim.
In a surprising turn of events, the two men have also been charged under Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997 for the crime of selling books published by the minority Ahmadiyya community. The men have been charged under provision 8 of ATA which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years and under section 298-C they can face an additional three years in jail. Earlier this year in January Shukoor was harassed and had his store vandalized by local police. Before that he was arrested for wearing a ring with a Quranic inscription.
This has come as a shock to the local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who are often times victim of terror attacks. The provision 8 of the anti-terrorism act was designed to stop sectarian hatred against minorities like the the Ahmadiyya but is being used by extremist clerics to unfairly target members of the Ahmadiyya sect.
In 1974, Pakistan declared the Ahmadiyya sect to be non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment, since then the Ahmadis have faced severe persecution both by the state and by local extremist groups like Khatm-e-Nabuwat.