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Pakistan: Five Ahmadi journalists charged with blasphemy

, Index number: ASA 33/003/1994

This paper deals with charges of blasphemy brought against five journalists who belong the the Ahmadiyya community, a Muslim sect regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims. Changes in the legal system of Pakistan introduced in the last few years make it a criminal offence for Ahmadis to profess, practice and propagate their faith; an amendment to the criminal code in 1986 provides the death penalty or life imprisonment for the offence of "defiling the name of the Prophet". Charges were brought in January 1994 against Noor Muhammad Saifi, aged 77, editor of "Al Fazal" and Agha Saifullah and Qazi Munir Ahmed, publisher and printer respectively of the same magazine. Charges were also brought against the editors of the monthly "Ansarullah" Mirza Mohammad Din Naz and Mohammad Ibrahim. The men were held from 7 February to 7 March 1994. The charges remain pending and if convicted they could be sentenced to death for blasphemy.

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