Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith (Wahhabi) parties have jumped on the blasphemy bandwagon, with 40 religious parties resolving to start a countrywide protest movement against the death sentence handed to Mumtaz Qadri, assassin of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, at an “all parties conference” on Wednesday.
Barelvi parties such as the Sunni Tehreek and Jamiat Ahl-i-Sunnat had been protesting against the anti-terrorism court’s verdict since it was announced on October 1.
On Wednesday, more than 40 parties including representatives of Deobandi groups Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl and Sami groups), Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatam-i-Nabuwat, Tanzeem-i-Islami, Tehreek-i-Islami, Ittehadul Ulema Pakistan and Jamia Ashrafia – as well as Wahhabi groups Jamaatud Dawa, Tehreek Hurmat-i-Rasool, and Muttahida Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadith – met to discuss a coordinated response to the sentence. Tehreek Namoos-i-Risalat and Tanzimul Madaris, both Barelvi groups, also attended.
The speakers criticised the court’s decision to sentence Qadri to death as against Islamic injunctions and the ideology of Pakistan.
JI Ameer Syed Munawwar Hassan said that the court’s verdict reflected an “unfortunate secularist atmosphere” in Pakistan. He urged the participants to unite against the judgement. He said there would be protests all over the country on Friday.
Tahaffuz Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz, an alliance of Sunni Barelvi parties, has already called a strike on Friday.
Jamaatud Dawa Ameer Hafiz Saeed said the court’s decision was part of “the conspiracy against Islam” and an attack on Pakistan’s ideology. He said Muslims should stand up and tell the world that they are ready to die but not ready to allow blasphemy. He said all Muslims felt just like Mumtaz Hussain Qadri about the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2011.