Ahmadi-owned magazine’s office under siege – by Rana Tanveer

Saleemudin said they were trying to victimise the magazine staff for their religious beliefs. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The vigilante siege of an office on Turner Road, where a weekly magazine owned by an Ahmadi family is produced, has not been lifted two months after it began, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Since the siege began, the circulation and publishing of the weekly, The Lahore, has stopped. The anti-Ahmadi activists have not only stopped the magazine’s administration from entering the office, located on the first floor of Galaxy Law Chambers, but also have not let them take away the printed material and furniture from the office.

The men patrol the spot round-the-clock so that nothing can be removed from the premises.

Jamaat-i-Ahmadia Pakistan spokesperson Saleemudin said the siege laid by a group of extremists was part of a campaign against Ahmadis. They had also lodged several false FIRs under the blasphemy law against Ahmadis, he said.

“They forced the magazine’s owners to leave the place and are now stealing their possessions from the office with the connivance of the police,” he said.

Saleemudin said they were trying to victimise the magazine staff for their religious beliefs.

He said they were pressuring the police to register an FIR against them. “Instead of providing them security, the police appear to be encouraging the extremists to continue the siege,” he said.

Muhammad Yaqoob, a member of the United Khatam-i-Nabuwat told The Express Tribune that they had laid siege to the office to “Get God’s blessings”. He said the magazine carried blasphemous content and should be banned. He said at least eight of their men remained at the office to prevent Ahmadis from entering the office and removing material from it. “We will remove it ourselves with help from the police after we manage to have an FIR registered against them under blasphemy laws,” he said.

He said an additional sessions judge had ordered the registration of an FIR, but the police were favouring the Ahmadis by not registering it.

He said a contempt of court petition had been moved before the Lahore High Court for the implementation of the court’s orders for the registration of an FIR.

According to Yaqoob’s application, he requested the police to register an FIR under Sections 298-C, 295 (B), 295 (C) and Section 11-W of the Anti Terrorism Act against magazine publisher Mian Muhammad Shah Jee, editor Yasir Zervi, Yasir Mansoor Ahmed and two others. He said that he had seen Yasir Zervi and two others circulating copies of the magazine on April 23. He said he too was given a copy of the magazine and had found blasphemous content in it.

He requested the police to seize everything in the office and seal it forever.

Munawar Ali Shahid, an Ahmadi and a rights activist, told The Express Tribune that Poet Saqib Zervi had started the weekly, The Lahore, in 1951. It was published every Friday, he said.

Zervi died in 2001 and his sons Yasir Zervi and Mansoor Zervi took over.

He said the magazine had been publishing social, cultural, political, economic and literary material for the last 62 years, but had now fallen prey to anti-Ahmadi elements.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2013.

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