- (Photo: Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
A British doctor in Pakistan was arrested and charged for allegedly "posing as a Muslim" after he was videotaped reading aloud from the Quran.
Masood Ahmad, a British doctor running a clinic in the eastern city of Lahore, was arrested last month after two men secretly videotaped him reading aloud verses from the Quran. The men had pretended to be sick and visited the clinic. After receiving their medication, they asked Ahmad to tell them about his religious beliefs as a member of the minority Ahmadi sect.
Members of the minority Ahmadi sect in Pakistan face widespread discrimination as they are considered under the country's constitution to be non-Muslims. This is because members of the Ahmadi sect consider the religion's founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to be a prophet, which contradicts the main teaching of Islam that Muhammad was the last prophet.
Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws state that anyone posing as a Muslim can face up to three years in prison. Some Islamic hardliners in the country even promise Muslims that they will have a special place in heaven if they kill a member of the Ahmadi sect.
The doctor, who previously worked in London to pay for his children's schooling, has gained widespread media attention for his case, although much of it is not positive. The Telegraph reports that the aging doctor was initially arrested after an angry mob gathered outside of the local Lahore police station demanding he be charged with posing as a Muslim.
Ahmad has seven children living in Australia and Great Britain, and one of his sons, 39-year-old Abbas Ahmad, a cab driver in Glasgow, told Reuters that he believes his father is actually being targeted because someone is trying to steal from his medical dispensary at the clinic. "I feel so angry because I can't do anything from here," the son said. "It's awful to know that people were plotting against someone you love."
Members of the Ahmadi sect have long been persecuted against in Pakistan. Ahmadis have previously been killed by suicide bombers while publicly worshipping, and in multiple cases clerics have sought to have whole towns of Ahmadis numbering 60,000 arrested for celebrating Islamic holiday traditions. In April 2010, nearly 90 Ahmadis died when the country's Taliban attacked a mosque during Friday prayers.
According to Reuters, the only safe place for Ahmadis in the country is the town of Rabwa, purchased by leaders of the minority sect shortly after Pakistan was created in 1947.