Addressing a charged protest demonstration outside the Data Darbar on Friday, with over 3,000 emotional participants, the leaders of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) openly advocated violent revenge.
Several SIC members vowed to ‘seek revenge’ for ‘the attack on Sunni honour’ and urged violence against those responsible. Instigating the cheering and vulnerable mass of participants, Allama Abdul Tawab Siddiqi questioned, “Are you a devotee of the saint in name only or do you want to seek revenge and prove your allegiance?”
Tempers and emotions ran high as the protestors raised their hands in unison, heeding the call and promising to prove their loyalty. Allama Siddiqi then administered them a collective oath.
A masked gunman fired a round from the midst of the crowd to mark the end of Allama Siddiqi’s speech and as a symbolic gesture of the crowd’s respect and agreement.
Raghib Naeemi then took the stage and read out a list of demands for the government. He said that all the individuals responsible for the Thursday night’s suicide attack should be arrested and publically hanged preferably in front of the Data Darbar. He demanded that all literature spewing hatred against Sunnis should be destroyed and banned.
Raghib urged the government to protect the lives and properties of the Sunni community. He suggested that Rana Sanaullah should be dismissed from his position as law minister for his alleged links with terrorist organisations.
Moreover he demanded that Abdul Rehman Jullendhari (member Wafaqul Madaris Qari Hanif) and Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi (member Sipah-i-Sahaba) should be named in the FIR.
Other speakers alleged that the Punjab government and the Auqaf Department were equally responsible for the attack on the saint’s shrine by failing to ensure its security.
Qari Zawar Bahadar claimed that the government was promoting terrorism by continuing to finance various factions. He said that the government had banned various militant organisations owing to international pressure but had continued to support them under new names. He said that the government needed to give up its duplicity on terrorism.
The council announced a shutter-down strike for Saturday in a joint meeting at Jamia Naeemia.
Despite the public declarations and incitement, the protest was not interrupted and the police superintendant present at the scene made no move to arrest any of the leaders or the participants or to stop them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2010.