KARACHI (Reuters) — Pakistani police have charged three adults and two children, from a minority sect designated non-Muslim, for spreading religious hatred, an official said on Friday.
The five members of the Ahmadiyya community, including an 11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, were caught reading and distributing children’s magazines that contained offensive material, police said.
“We have registered a case against them … they have obtained pre-arrest bails from a court,” Shabbir Mohammad, a senior police official told Reuters by telephone from Chora Kalan, a village 150 km south of Islamabad.
“We are trying to recover more of these magazines,” he said, adding the magazines spread hatred against other religions.
The sect was founded in Punjab by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 19th century India, and the Ahmadis do not regard Mohammad as the last prophet of Islam.
An amendment to Pakistan’s constitution in 1974 declared that Ahmadis were not Muslims, and barred them from preaching or propagating their faith.
During military dictator President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq’s rule in the 1980s a series of changes to the penal code were made that became known as the anti-Ahmadi laws.
Ahmadis have long been victims of harassment and religious violence, often instigated by militant Sunni groups, according to a U.S. State Department report on religious freedom.
The community is centred around the town of Chenab Nagar in central Punjab province. Official figures for Ahmadis are unreliable as they have boycotted censuses since 1974, but they estimate their community at around two million, according to the State Department report.