On 2 December 2015, an 80 year old Ahmadi Muslim optician and bookseller Mr Abdul Shakoor (Shakoor Bhai), was arrested for stocking the Holy Quran and other books on peace published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Mr Mazhar Abbas, a Shia Muslim who was working as a shop assistant, was also arrested.
Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department accompanied by Pakistan’s Elite Force raided the bookshop in Rabwah, Pakistan. Officers seized books, magazines, cash and even gift vouchers from the bookstore. Publications included translated copies of the Holy Quran, the biography of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s Daily Al-Fazl newspaper. Both Shakoor Bhai and his assistant were arrested and taken to an unknown location where they were denied the right to contact their respective families.
On 2 January 2016 Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced Shakoor Bhai to 8 years imprisonment, comprising 5 years imprisonment under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism legislation and 3 years imprisonment under anti-Ahmadi legislation. Shakoor Bhai was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 600,000.
His assistant, Mazhar Abbas was imprisoned for 5 years under anti-terror laws and ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000.
Both defendants were denied the right to a fair trial as the case was rushed through the courts, with no time for a proper defence to be prepared and presented. Moreover, the only witnesses to testify at trial were for the prosecution which only included the officers who raided the bookstore.
Stop the Persecution are campaigning for Shakoor Bhai with a petition directed to the Pakistan High Commissioner and the Prime Minister.