RANGOON – Two Pakistani nationals were fined and deported after a Tamwe Township court found them guilty of violating Burma’s Immigration Act. While on tourist visas, the men delivered sermons at several Rangoon mosques without first applying for official permission from the authorities, said Win Aung Ni, head of the local police station.
The police detained the two men, 69-year-old Zulfiqar Ahmad and his 29-year-old son Saifullah Ahmad, on Saturday for questioning. They were brought to court on Monday morning on a charge levied by judge Tin Htun Oo. The hearing was attended by several police and immigration officers and concluded by 2 p.m.
Following the ruling, the men were immediately driven to the Rangoon International Airport.
Al-Haj Aye Lwin, the chief convener of Burma’s Islamic Center, said that both men were well educated and that their lectures were popular in the Muslim community. The father is a well-known Sufi Muslim speaker and the mosques attracted large crowds when he visited Pabedan, Kyauktada and Mingalar Taung Nyunt townships.
“Muslims normally pray five times each day. The two Pakistani men just joined in prayer. They did not give lengthy sermons, but the authorities said they breached their visa regulations,” said Al-Haj Aye Lwin.
The judge told The Irrawaddy that the men had breached the Immigration Act and were punished under Section 4(2), which holds the defendants liable for deportation, and Section 13(1), which allows for a minimum fine of 1,500 kyats (about US$1) or imprisonment. The men were handed a fine of 100,000 kyats (almost $100).
When police officer Win Aung Ni spoke to The Irrawaddy on Monday at around 3:30 p.m., he said that they had just deported the two men.
The hosts did not understand the immigration laws when they invited the men from Pakistan to deliver sermons while they were in the country, he added.