ISLAMABAD: In order to eliminate the menace of religious extremism and sectarian violence, the government has decided to monitor Friday’s sermons at capital mosques so peace can be ensured between all sects, Pakistan Today has learnt.
“Unfortunately, loudspeakers of mosques have been misused which promote sectarian hatred and extremism so Friday sermons of capital mosques will be monitored by special branch and a weekly report will be submitted to the deputy commissioner,” according to documents.
The government has decided to take all stakeholders into account in a matter as sensitive as this to ensure proper implementation.
Well-placed sources in the Ministry of Interior said that the initiative was taken in order to eliminate sectarianism in the city and notifications regarding the change has been delivered to clerics at capital mosques.
The sources said that on Thursday, a high-level meeting between Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and clerics was held in the ministry in which topics were formally handed over to the cleric and they were asked to avoid hate speeches that promote sectarian violence.
According to the documents, Friday sermon is a powerful platform to disseminate views as most of the mosques are filled to capacity and preachers use the pulpit to communicate various ideas. The promotion of militancy, hate speech and rebellion against the state must be strictly off limits.
Authorities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE provide themes and guidelines that are incorporated in Friday sermons to avoid religious extremism and promote sectarian harmony, it reads.
Abdur Rehman Movia, Imam of Rehmania Mosque G-6/1 and general secretary ASWL (Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) said that clerics also proposed additional topics and it was decided that a committee would be formed which will jointly work with the local administration to discourage sectarian violence. “It’s a positive sign that the government has taken this initiative and the proposed topic is not new as the clerics already highlight these topics,” he added.
Muhammad Nazir Farooqi, Imam of Khulfa-e- Rashdeen sector G-9/2 however, claimed that he did not agree on the proposed topic and said that further meetings will take place.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad confirmed that government has proposed specific topics to the clerics for Friday prayers and a committee will be notified for this purpose.
“The basic objective is to ensure peace among all sects and this is the first consultation meeting with clerics,” he told Pakistan Today.
The official said that there is a dire need to absorb clerics in the mainstream as Friday sermons play a key role in the society.
Violators would be booked under pre-existing hate-speech laws, he said in response to a question.