Islamabad: The Pakistan Supreme Court has noted that bigoted behaviour towards minorities paints the entire nation in poor colour, labelling the people of Pakistan as intolerant, dogmatic and rigid, The Express Tribune reported.
The apex court made the judgment as it overturned a Lahore High Court order, which had endorsed the charges of blasphemy against members of the Ahmadiyya community on the allegation that they had styled their place of worship as a mosque and displayed Islamic symbols on its inner walls.
“To deprive a non-Muslim (minority) of our country from holding his religious beliefs, to obstruct him from professing and practicing his religion within the four walls of his place of worship is against the grain of our democratic Constitution and repugnant to the spirit and character of our Islamic Republic,” said the nine-page judgment, authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, who was heading a division bench hearing a petition against the offence of blasphemy on Ahmadi individuals.
The judgment noted that observations of this court and of the Federal Shariat Court were in line with the constitutional values enshrined in the preamble to constitution which require citizens to be tolerant as a people, believe in freedom, equality and social justice, and respect minorities and make adequate provisions for them to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures and to safeguard their legitimate interests.
The court noted that even though Article 260(3) of the Constitution declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, it neither disowned them as citizens, nor deprived them of their entitlement to their fundamental rights, the report said.