Islamabad: Following a ban by a lawyers` group on Shezan juices that are made by an Ahmadi-owned firm, the company`s products are being endorsed with new vigour by progressive Pakistanis.
Reams have been written on the "absurd" ban on Shezan juices in court complexes of Pakistan`s most populous province of Punjab and a Facebook group "I`ll drink Shezan" has been floated.
Many users of Facebook and Twitter have changed their display pictures to an image of a Shezan juice pack and some are a planning a "Shezan party".
The Lahore Bar Association banned all drinks made by the Shezan company at court complexes and vowed to take "tough action" against those found buying or selling the products near courts because the firm is owned by an Ahmadi.
The LBA made the decision last week after Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, president of the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum, moved a motion on the issue.
The Ahmadiyya Times, a website that tracks issues related to the minority Ahmadi community, posted a piece titled "Pakistan: A Shezan a day, keeps the mullah-cult away".
Imran Jattala wrote for the Ahmadiyya Times: "Some of my friends and acquaintances have decided to turn the latest bit of the anti-Ahmadiyya hate campaign in Pakistan on its head".
"They are educated people who believe they know how to deal with another kind of `educated` class," he said.
"There are bad governments that are discussed as part of the political science curriculums in schools around the world; there are bad armies that are honed-in on in military school discussions; and now, I am afraid, the Pakistani judiciary is about to join the `bad` lot as a subject matter in world schools," he added.
Ahmadis were declared "non-Muslims" in Pakistan in the 1970s.
Since then, members of the sect have been targeted by religious zealots.
Scores of Ahmadis have died in attacks by banned groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba in recent years.
The Express Tribune devoted an editorial to the ban: "Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd... This action takes discrimination against
the Ahmadi community to new heights.
"We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the `offensive` drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs.
"The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis - who have through the decades been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums...," the editorial said.
On the Facebook group "I`ll drink Shezan", even non-resident Pakistanis have posted pictures of themselves and their children sipping the company`s juices.
Actor-anchor Ayeshah Alam Khan posted a picture of herself
Jawad Ali, who is active on the group, wrote: "Folks, we
have 450+ members in a few short days. This is great. The tide
is turning. Welcome all new members to the group. Speak up...
Make some noise. Drink Shezan and post pictures".
A cartoon with the slogan `This person drinks Shezan
juice` is being used by a growing number of Pakistanis as
their profile pictures on social networking sites.
While Facebook and Twitter users vowed to drink Shezan,
Raheela Danish raised a pertinent question on Facebook.
"Do they know how many non-Ahmadi Muslims work in Shezan
factory? Several. In fact, majority..."
A blogger came up with a things-to-ban list in jest.
"... in the spirit of banning things based on who owns or
manufactures them, I`ve come up with a short list of other
items that should be banned".
The list included "guns" - "specifically the infamous
Kalashnikov AK-47 and AK-74 rifles which so many feel a
religious duty to acquire. The guns carry the name of their
inventor, Soviet weapons designer Lt Gen Mikhael Kalashnikov,
an atheist"; "cellphones" ‘ "invented by Christians and
manufactured by atheists in China".
"... it is high time to lay those BlackBerrys, Nokias,
iPhones, HTCs and Samsungs on top of a bonfire. Start with
Android phones, since the technology`s father is a Jew," wrote
He further suggested that "paper, printing, and ink" be
banned because they are Chinese inventions.