They also whitewashed Quranic verses painted on the mosques in Sialkot district, leaders of the Ahmadi community said.

This was the fourth such incident in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province. Earlier, police had demolished domes and removed plaques from graves of Ahmadis in Lahore, Kharian and Hafizabad districts at the "request" of Muslim clerics.

Jamaat Ahmaddiya Punjab spokesman Amer Mahmood said that some Muslim clerics had raised the issue of domes and Quranic verses written on the walls of Ahmadi mosques in Cantonment and Nakukar areas of Sialkot, 80 km from Lahore.

There had been tension between the Ahmadis and Muslims in these areas. "Giving in to pressure from the Muslim clerics, the police forced us to demolish the domes and removed the verses. On our refusal, the police today got the job done by themselves," Mahmood said.

"This is outrageous. The law enforcement agencies should protect the rights of minorities instead of obliging others," he demanded.

A police official said policemen had called Ahmadi representatives and Muslims of the areas to sort out the issue. Under the law of the land, Ahmadis cannot construct domes and write Quranic verses at their places of worship, he said.

"When Ahmadis refused to demolish the domes and remove the verses, we had to act," said the official, who did not want to be named. Pakistan’s Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but were declared non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974. A decade later, they were barred from proselytizing or identifying themselves as Muslims. Some 1.5 million Ahmadis live across the country.


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