A court in Pakistan recently rejected the bail petition of a century-old Ahmediyya publication’s publisher. Tahir Mehdi, of 102-year-old monthly magazine Al Fazl, has been accused of printing blasphemous material and spreading hatred in the country. Earlier this month, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khosa, rejected his bail petition and directed the prosecution to submit a challan before the trial court without any delay.
Mehdi’s bail petition stated the police in Lahore had registered a baseless case against him, with his advocate Abid Hassan pleading that Mehdi did not publish any objectionable material in his monthly magazine.
“On the pressure of local clerics, the police included terrorism clauses in the FIR, which is against the law,” he said.
Mehdi has been behind bars for close to three years, since the local police arrested him from his residence on the insistence of local clerics in 2013. Hassan said that the police failed to submit the necessary challan before the trial court and therefore his client should be released on bail.
However, the prosecutor submitted the case record before the bench, saying the material recovered from Mehdi is in fact blasphemous and highly provocative. He also said that Mehdi has several other blasphemy cases registered against him by various individuals; and if released, the petitioner would continue to spread hatred and publish material that could lead to religious conflict in the country.
The Ahmediyya community in Pakistan considers itself Muslim, but is often subjected to religious persecution. A constitutional amendment in 1974 declared the community anti-Islamic, and a decade later Ahmediyyas were banned from identifying as Muslims or proselytizing. Pakistan has approximately 1.5 million Ahmediyyas living in different parts of the country.
Photo Credits: Jihad Watch