Pakistan

Police arrest shopkeeper for anti-Ahmadi notice

LAHORE: Police charged a shopkeeper with blasphemy in Lahore on Monday after he banned members of the Ahmadi community from entering his shop.

The shopkeeper in the Punjab capital was charged with spreading religious hatred, officials said, citing the National Action Plan, a grand scheme to combat extremism put in place in the wake of a Taliban massacre at a school last year that left more than 150 people dead.

The move comes just two days before the first anniversary of the assault on the army-run school in Peshawar, which shocked and outraged Pakistanis already scarred by nearly a decade of attacks.

According to police, Aabid Hashmi, the owner of a computer shop in the city’s upmarket commercial region, had displayed a poster outside his shop banning Ahmadi customers from entering.

“The arrest was made under National Action Plan (NAP) for spreading religious hatred,” Haider Ashraf, a senior police official, told AFP.

A spokesman for the Ahmadi community, Amir Mehmood, welcomed the move as the “first drop of rain”.

Senior columnist and former lawmaker Ayaz Amir said the move was “significant” and could help reduce persecution of the Ahmadis.

In November Ahmadi families were forced to flee Jhelum after an angry mob torched a factory there, accusing the community members of burning the Holy Quran.

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