An elderly British-Pakistani doctor has been jailed in Lahore for “posing as a Muslim” after he was heard reading the Koran by two men pretending to be patients at his clinic.
Dr Masood Ahmad, 72 and an Ahmadiyya Muslim, was arrested after the two men “dragged him out by the neck” and beat him, according to reports.
Ahmadis are considered non-Muslims under Pakistani law and can face long prison terms if found guilty of “outraging Muslims’ feelings”.
Mr Ahmad’s brother said the men posed as patients and tricked Dr Ahmad into reading a verse from the Koran.
“He said to him “you are like a father to me, please help me with some questions”, Nasir Ahmad said.
“When my brother answered, they began beating him and dragged him outside by his neck.”
Masood Ahmad has had three unsuccessful bail hearings, but remains behind bars.
One hearing was picketed by scores chanting anti-Ahmadi slogans and his lawyer was allegedly too frightened to attend the other two.
His son, one of seven children in Britain and Australia, said the family suspected someone was trying to steal his father’s dispensary.
Dr Ahmad had spent a majority of his working life in London before returning to Lahore in 1982 and opening a clinic.
One of his accusers, religious teacher Muhammad Ihsan, says Ahmad had preached to them illegally.
The Ahmadi community is one of myriad ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan who have suffered persecution over the past three decades.
In 2012, 20 Ahmadiyya muslims were sent to prison for “posing as Muslims” despite the community being adherents of Islam.
One case saw a bank clerk arrested for wearing a ring with a Quranic verse and in another an entire family was charged for writing a Muslim greeting on a wedding invitation.
Hardliners have twice sought the arrest of an entire town of Ahmadis, 60,000 people, for holding religious celebrations.
There are more than 500000 Ahmadis in Pakistan with many living in the city of Rabwa which was purchased by the community when Pakistan was created in 1947.
Founded in British India at the end of the 19th Century, the Ahmadiyya movement is a reformist Islamic sect which aims to restore Islam to its “true essence and pristine form” which has been lost through the ages.
They have faced widespread persecution in many other countries, including in Britain where Ahmadi buildings have been vandalized and leaflets have appeared urging Muslims to kill them.