Ahmadi graves desecrated in Pakistan

Gunmen on Monday desecrated graves of Ahmadis in eastern Pakistan, members of the minority community said, in the latest act of intimidation and religious hatred against the beleaguered group.

More than a dozen masked men broke into an Ahmadi graveyard in the upmarket Model Town area of Lahore before dawn and after tying up the security guard and caretaker vandalised graves, community spokesman Salimud Din said.

The attackers shattered the tomb stones of about 120 graves and left, he said.

Ahmadis, who believe their founder was the messiah after the Prophet Mohammed, were declared non-Muslims in 1974 as part of an Islamisation programme that has made the Pakistani state one of the most religiously intolerant in the world.

They are legally banned from calling themselves Muslims and their places of worship mosques, they are forbidden from from preaching and even from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, and their publications are prohibited.

Din said police took no action after similar incidents a few months ago in the eastern city of Faisalabad and the central town of Lodhran.

“The government has failed to protect our human rights and Ahmadis’ life and property is not safe in Pakistan,” Din said.

Shahid Ataullah, a local Ahmadi elder, said the attackers came around 2:00am (2100 GMT) and threatened the guard and caretaker with “dire consequences” and said that they were annoyed because Islamic verses were engraved on the tombstones.

Ataullah told AFP that the attackers told the guards they were from militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban, though there was no claim of responsibility.

Members of the community were discussing whether or not to lodge a formal complaint with police, he said.

“We are under lots of pressure and the objective seems to be to harass us,” Ataullah said.

Police said that they were not aware of the incident.

“There is no such thing in our knowledge. We will take action when someone files a report about the incident,” local police station chief Idrees Qureshi told AFP.

In May 2010, nearly 100 people were killed in Lahore after militants stormed two Ahmadi prayer halls launching gun and grenade attacks.

Gunmen later raided the hospital where victims were being treated, killing four people in a shoot out.

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