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January 17, 2011
LAHORE: Shockingly, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an organisation proscribed since the Mumbai terrorist attacks, not only managed to organise a sizeable rally, but clerics invited to speak during the demonstration spewed hate speech upon hate speech, targeted minorities, incited people to violence with impunity and roused people to adopt the ‘way of jihad’.
Despite the presence of clear cut laws, speakers “praised” the actions of the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer and warned media commentators against what they termed being critical of fatwas (religious decrees)” while discussing blasphemy matters.
Head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s political affairs wing Prof Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki said that anyone “supporting a blasphemer is also a blasphemer and both must meet the same fate”.
Hundreds of Jamaat-ud-Dawa activists and their sympathisers initially assembled near Nasir Bagh and started marching towards the Punjab Assembly building on The Mall.
Hafiz Makki said that Taseer had been assassinated because the government had not “educated him” about being careful on sensitive issues before appointing him as the provincial governor.
He said matters concerning blasphemy “are like (a live) high-tension wire with more than 11,000 volts … whoever touches (it) would be reduced to nought”.
Highly charged marchers, carrying placards declaring a ‘holy war against elements conspiring against Islam’, ripped away signboards and streamers in favour of the slain governor and surprisingly also in favour of his successor, Latif Khosa.
Endorsing Mumtaz Hussain Qadri’s actions, Hafiz Makki said the man had played “his due role and police department should be proud of … such a (true) lover of Holy Prophet (Pbuh)”.
Chagrined at Pope Benedict XVI’s statement in which he had urged the Pakistani government to “repeal” blasphemy laws, the speakers went ballistic and warned Christians and Jews “everywhere” that Muslims were “ready to take extreme action”. At one point, Hafiz Makki even urged all Christians to “convert to Islam”.
Warning people who had presented a “gift of tears for Taseer”, Hafiz Makki said that there would be more weeping in the days ahead, adding: “What is the death of one man (Taseer) when so many (people) are (being) killed on the streets daily?”
Earlier, Convener of Tehreek Hurmat-e-Rasool (Pbuh) Maulana Ameer Hamza said that whoever “commits blasphemy revokes his right to life”.
Addressing President Asif Ali Zardari, Maulana Hamza said: “You should know that we will not allow you to free Aasia (Bibi),” adding in an offensive manner to take “this opportunity to convey the same message” to President Barack Obama.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2011.