Two Pakistani tourists deported for holding Sufism talks
TWO Pakistani nationals were given a choice yesterday: imprisonment for a year or deportation. The Muslim visitors were charged with an immigration violation after they came to Yangon to allegedly deliver sermons, but were on a tourist visa, according to police.
Ahmed Zulfiqar, 63, and his son, Ahmed Saifullah, 29, arrived in Yangon on July 26 and toured three townships – Pabeden, Kyauktada and Mingalar Taung Nyunt – where they discussed the practice of Sufi Islam.
The father and son were detained over the weekend and yesterday morning the Tarmwe Township Court found them guilty of an immigration violation under sections 4(2) and 13(1) of the 1947 Immigration Act. They were sentenced with a K100,000 fine each, and told they could be deported or face a year in prison.
Tarmwe township immigration officer U Maung Maung told The Myanmar Times yesterday afternoon that the father and son had opted for deportation, and the office was waiting only for a green light from the Union government.
“They will leave immediately when we receive instructions back,” he said.
The Sufi lectures drew large crowds at all three mosques, including around 900 people at the Pabedan site, 500 at the Sule Mosque in Kyauktada, and over 1000 at the Mingalar Taung Nyunt mosque, according to police.
But a local Muslim leader said the father and son visitors had no intention of breaking the law.
“Really it was a misunderstanding,” said U Aye Lwin, a Muslim leader and member of the Muslim Interfaith Association.
“They were not delivering sermons, but only teaching about Sufism, similar to the Dhamma sessions … They came only to share the lessons of Sufism after praying. We are so sad for the misunderstanding as they are very respectable religious people.
‘They were not delivering sermons, but only teaching about Sufism, similar to Dhamma sessions.’
U Aye Lwin Muslim Interfaith Association member
AUNG KYAW MIN
TOE WAI AUNG