Islamists protest against "Blasphemous cartoons"
FILE – Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to the nation in his first televised speech in Islamabad, Pakistan, August 19, 2018.
Thousands of demonstrators from Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), an extremist religious and political party, launched a march from Lahore to Islamabad on Wednesday, demanding that the newly elected government maintain diplomatic ties with the Netherlands and expelled its ambassador ,
The protest comes after the announcement of a cartoons competition by the Dutch legislator for the Prophet Muhammad. The competition is scheduled for this year.
TLP was created last year and is a strong supporter of the country's controversial blasphemy laws. The TLP and its leadership openly justify violence to protect Muhammad's honor and to demand the death penalty for those who commit what they consider to be blasphemy.
"The government has only two options: Either cut diplomatic relations with Holland, expose its embassy in Pakistan and the Dutch ambassador, or kill us and send our bodies back to Lahore," said Ejaz Ashrafi, spokesman for the TLP, VOA ,
"If the government meets our demands, we can think about stopping this long march, otherwise we are ready to die in Islamabad for this cause and have already written our will," added Ashrafi.
Meanwhile, a delegation headed by Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, the federal minister of religious affairs and inter-religious harmony, assured the TLP leadership that the government is taking the matter seriously ,
"The government is aware of the situation and is making an effort." Our Foreign Minister has spoken with his Dutch counterpart to discuss the issue of blasphemous caricatures and we will speak at the upcoming United Nations Assembly [General Assembly] in New We will also try to hold an emergency meeting on the platform of the Islamic Cooperation Organization, "Qadri told the VOA.
Mohammad Faisal, a spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Office, also tweeted the topic on Wednesday, saying the government was discussing the one question to the Dutch authorities:
In a speech to the Pakistani Senate this week, Imran Khan spoke , the newly elected Prime Minister of the country, also on the matter and assured the senators that the issue would be addressed at the General Assembly of Pakistan. [1
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"Few in the West understand the pain inflicted on Muslims by such blasphemous activities," he said Khan.
In June, Wi Lenders announced a cartoon contest to portray the Prophet of Islam. He said the contest would take place in the parliamentary offices of his party.
Wilder is a member of the Dutch Party of Freedom, the country's second largest political party. He is known for his anti-Islamic views and has declared Islam a totalitarian ideology.
Last week, several thousand TLP supporters and members in Islamabad launched a protest. Security forces intervened and prevented angry demonstrators from throwing stones at the Dutch embassy in Islamabad.
According to Wilders & # 39; announcement, a former Pakistani cricketer Wilton offered $ 24,000 in bounty
Blasphemy remains a very sensitive topic in Pakistan, where strong religious sentiment has led to violence and murder.
In 2011, Mumtaz Qadri, a police officer, assassinated Punjab's Governor Salman Taseer after Taseer demanded reforms to the blasphemy laws. Qadri was furious with Taseer's attitude to blasphemy.
Qadri was later found guilty of murder and hanged by the Pakistani government in February 2017. His tomb was turned into a shrine by followers of his strict Islamist ideology.
TLP was formed in 2017 to enforce Sharia law and obey Qadri's legacy of not forgiving anyone accused of blasphemy against Muhammad.
The party resigned in the forefront after Khadim Rizvi, TLP's founder, together with thousands of his followers, held a sit-in in Islamabad last year that paralyzed the city for over 20 days
At that time, TLP accused the government of blasphemy because she had tried to change a bill on the Khatam-e-Nabbuwwat oath that confirms the end of the prophecy, with Muhammad being the last prophet.
Under current law, every Muslim serving in the government in Pakistan must take the oath and believe in the closure of the prophecy for Muhammad.
Critics claim that the oath was used to persecute minorities such as Ahmadi's religious minority, who regard themselves as followers of Islam but do not believe in the end of the prophecy.
Kunwar Rehman Khan of VOA & # 39; s Urdu The service has contributed to this report.