Amid an increase in registration of blasphemy cases against Shias in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) held a rally in Karachi against the minority community.
During the rally, the participant chanted hate slogans, such as ‘Shia kafir’ against the members of the Shia community and demanded a ban on Muharram processions.
So this all has started.
Sipah Sahaba & Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan chanting Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir in #Karachi
— Syed Hussain Mujtaba Rizvi (@110HussainRizvi) September 11, 2020
A social media user shared the video of the rally, wherein participants can be heard chanting ‘Shias are infidel’. The Twitter user also claimed that an imambargah in the Imamia Lines Area was also allegedly attacked by the members of the radical Sunni parties.
Sipah Sahaba activists attacking and throwing stones inside an Imambargah on their way to the convention held in Karachi today.
— Asad Gokal (@asadgokal) September 11, 2020
Another social media user said that the demonstrators held banners belonging to a known terrorist organization– ASWJ/SSP– that has been responsible for the targeted killings of Shia Muslims in the country.
Thousands of Anti-Shia extremists in #Pakistan participated in a rally against Shia Muslims today
This is extremely worrying, and this is a strong indication that there will be further sectarian violence in the country. pic.twitter.com/3p44xE5Qsf
— Afreen (@Afreenrz) September 11, 2020
Since the start of Muharram, there has been an increase in hate campaigns against Shia groups and subsequent blasphemy allegations for reciting Ziyarat-e-Ashura — a prayer that denounces the killers of Imam Hussain. Moreover, a number of Shia orators were detained across the country for allegedly making blasphemous statements against some companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Sudden rise in blasphemy cases against Shias:
At least 42 cases pertaining to blasphemy were registered across Pakistan in a single month. Most of those accused of blasphemy belonged to the Shia community, who have been booked under 295-A and 298 sections of the Pakistan Penal Code for allegedly ‘insulting the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’.
Similarly, members of Ahmadiyya and Christian communities are also among the people accused of blasphemy. Blasphemy accusations are highly inflammatory in deeply conservative Pakistan and have in the past sparked mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
Amid a rise in such cases, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was ‘gravely concerned’ at the recent surge in blasphemy cases being registered against sectarian and religious minorities, particularly the Shia community, and the potential for ensuing sectarian violence. It said the police must also refrain from registering blasphemy cases so promptly, knowing full well the sensitive implications of doing so when such complaints are often fabricated and spurred on by personal vendettas.
Anti-Shia wall chalking appears in Karachi ahead of PM’s visit:
Days after a Shia cleric was booked for alleged blasphemous remarks, anti-Shia wall chalking — a hate practice common since the 80s — has reappeared in various neighbourhoods of Karachi.
According to a post shared on Facebook, the wall chalking also had flags of banned sectarian outfits next to it. “Today, Prime Minister and COAS are coming to Karachi and we can see how the decades-old wall chalkings of “Shia Kafir” started reappearing on the street walls of various neighbourhoods in Karachi with the flags of the banned militant outfits.”
Pakistan Shias — that account for 20 per cent of the country’s population — have been at the receiving end of faith-based violence since the 1980s.
In the latter half of the 20th Century, the religious minority started facing the brunt of Sunni extremist groups, such as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) which are considered to be the same group with different names. All these groups claimed to target Shia over their ‘blasphemous practices’.