Brave Imam!

Daily Times, Monday, November 21, 2005
Imam faces expulsion over charges of sectarianism
By Mohammad Imran

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF) station commander in Wah Cantt issued a show cause notice to Maulana Qazi Zafar, the prayer leader at Jamia Mosque in East Park, for allegedly fanning sectarianism and hatred against the government and the armed forces among residents during Friday sermons. The maulana denied the charges saying public criticism should not be construed as propaganda.

The notice signed by Station Commander Hafiz Muhammad Shafiq states, “You, Maulana Qazi Zafar, D-810, Lane No 19, Lala Rukh, Wah Cantt, are reportedly spreading sectarianism and hatred against the government and the armed forces among army personnel and POF employees during Friday sermons in Jamia Mosque, East Park”. The commander accused the maulana of creating disloyalty, disaffection and breach of peace in Wah Cantt.

The station commander, in the notice, warned the maulana that the latter was liable to be expelled from Wah Cantonment within 24 hours under section 239 of the Cantonment Act, 1924, and sought a reply, failing which will lead to an ex-parte action. “You should be removed from Wah Cantonment within 24 hours and debarred from entering the cantonment area,” the notice states.

In reply to the notice, Maulana Zafar said the whole state was sacred like a mosque and stopping the preaching of Islam was a great sin. “All institutions, including the judiciary, armed forces, parliament and rulers are answerable to God,” he said. “I am not fanning sectarianism and feelings of hatred against the armed forces because I believe that the Pakistan Army is an asset to the country and the Muslim ummah but if any general topples an elected government, breaks his commitment to the people and adopts a political role, then criticism should not be taken as propaganda against the armed forces,” he said.

As a prayer leader, it is my responsibility to tell people the truth whether even if it is hard, he said, adding that Wah Cantt was his hometown and nobody had any right to expel him from the city.

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