Thousands rally in Lahore over blasphemy law

Published: January 30, 2011
An activist of the Pakistani fundamentalist party Jamaat-i-Islami chants slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death, during a protest. PHOTO: AFP

An activist of the Pakistani fundamentalist party Jamaat-i-Islami chants slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death, during a protest. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: About 40,000 people rallied in Lahore on Sunday in the latest protest against proposed reforms of a controversial blasphemy law, police said.

Religious groups have held protests in several Pakistani cities since former Punjab governor Salman Taseer vowed to amend the law, that was recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death. Taseer’s stance enraged the country’s increasingly conservative religious base and he was assassinated on January 4 by his own security guard, who has said he killed the governor over his support for reform.

Under intense pressure from religious parties, Pakistan’s government has since said it had no intentions to amend the law.

Demonstrators from religious parties Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity linked with 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, held banners in support of Mumtaz Qadri — the police commando who shot dead Taseer.

Participants chanted slogans including “Free Mumtaz Qadri”, “We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the honour of Prophet Mohammad” and “Changes in blasphemy law not accepted.”

An AFP reporter saw activists carrying effigies of Pope Benedict XVI and Pakistani minorities affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti shouting slogans “Allah-o-Akbar.”

Local government official Tariq Zaman put the overall number of protesters at 40,000.

Leaders of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and Quaid-i-Azam group also addressed the rally.

Event organisers called the brothers of two Pakistani men shot dead by a US national in Lahore on Thursday to the stage and pledged their support for the victims’ families in pursuing a murder case.

The US man, named as Raymond Davis, is being held at a police station on double murder charges over the shooting of the two motorcyclists.

The US embassy had claimed diplomatic immunity on his behalf while Davis, who has been held at a Lahore police station since the incident, told a magistrate’s court Friday that he had fired in self-defence.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • khurram kaleem
    Jan 30, 2011 - 6:43PM

    of these 40thousand i hope no one goes to fajr prayer call .Recommend

  • Sad
    Jan 30, 2011 - 6:53PM

    Great here we go again … sukoon nahi hai Pakistani Qaum ko.
    Even the politicans are there with them and here we thought things were silenced .
    Pakistan ka KHUDA HI HAFIZ HAI…Recommend

  • Paras Vikmani
    Jan 30, 2011 - 7:30PM

    thts sad to know tht extremisim is increasing in pakistanRecommend

  • Sara
    Jan 30, 2011 - 7:42PM

    @ Khurram

    Fully agree with u, Fajar is so far, hardly 1/100 of them go to ISHA prayer.

    Unfortunately MULLAH is exploiting common man at the name of religion.

    Too bad.Recommend

  • AM
    Jan 30, 2011 - 7:43PM

    Sir politicians are not with them, they are actually the ones behind all this.Recommend

    Jan 30, 2011 - 7:59PM

    Don’t worry guys they are just a bunch of clerics whose characters are known by everybody breathing in this country. they have always taken stance for their own benefits, albeit now also they are not doing any worthwhile work. and today’s demonstration have unveiled the garb of PML-N. They are the erstwhile companion of jamait-e-islami and JUI. they are not the true democrats. we are going through the period of decadence so our resilience is on test.Recommend

  • Ravi [India]
    Jan 30, 2011 - 8:39PM

    what an irony…..
    Thousands in India protested against corruption (the same day 30th jan 2011).
    And people in Pakistan were busy rallying for a legislation which will only take them back as more conservative society.
    How much both the brothers have moved away (India Pakistan)Recommend

  • rehman
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:12PM

    stop puting news of these a**hoes on express tv!!!!its a waste of spaceRecommend

  • zeruk
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:16PM

    one should take care about the sensitivities of these people.the only way out lies in sane approach instead to reprimand them.Recommend

  • Faiz
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:26PM

    In India thousands protested against corruption; in Pakistan, thousands of the corrupt protested. What a contrast!Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 9:29PM

    So these 40,000 Zinda Dilaan-a-Lahore asked for Qadri to be released, but then in the same breath asked that Raymond Davis be tried for murder? they seriously dont see this obvious contradiction?Recommend

  • Canuckistani
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:43PM

    @ Rav….we’re not brothers…not even distant cousins..never were and never will be….but I appreciate your sentiment.

    The blasphemy law should not be changed. Shahbaz Bhatti should not push his luck with comments against it…that is not his business to interfere in Islamic matters. The implementation of this law will change over the course of time and those changes will be take place at the hands of a conservative society…not a fringe liberal group bent on enforcing their will on the majority. I urge caution to all minorities living in Pakistan…do not get involved in this matter thinking that foreign support or local liberal support is some sign of a changing tide. Recommend

  • Disco Molvi
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:44PM

    If I’m to judge these people with the same narrow mindedness as they do to others, then the guy depicted in the picture, and most likely the others like him, are all committing blasphemy themselves by wearing the ‘kalima’ head band. The sweat of their foreheads is soiling the holy text, and therefore should be tried according to section 295 B of Penal Code.Recommend

  • abdullah
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:19PM

    this is all topi drama …..these disco clerics want attention one listens 2 them …so they decide to come on the roads and obviously wen u r jobless at that time such protests r fun for these ppl …coz at timzz they r also provided with food [[[[[ langar ]]]]….
    lyk most of the ppl go on the mizars for food [[[[ urs gatherings ]]]]]]..
    this is a gud way of publicity…every 2nd day one new disco cleric comes in the media …so its imp for them 2 do some publicity..Recommend

  • Robin
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:28PM

    Why is Jose Garcia wearing a terrorist head-band?Recommend

  • Sheheryar Khan
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:41PM

    It is sad if we bring politics and extremism here. It is beyond one’s understanding that a person claims him/herself to be a Muslim and remains unaware of the integrity, dignity, reverence and veneration of Holy Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon Him]. All these 40k people who came out there albeit the fear of suicide attacks have demonstrated that they’re happy and resolute and are in no mood to alter the current blasphemy law of the Pakistani Constitution. Infact, if I put it in another way, the people marched in favour of Pakistan as well. It is not narrow-mindedness nor extremism. It is a part of the Muslim faith to uphold the Prophet’s regard in highest esteem.

    And undoubtedly, corruption and other viles shouldn’t be tolerated as well at any cost.Recommend

  • AM
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:22PM

    While 1/100 may go to these prayers I am certain none/100 know the real meaning of what they are reciting! We are about forgiveness, thoughtfulness towards others, etc. etc. and not this mess the nation is in and continues to dig itself deeper and deeper in.

    There is no Islam we follow; just show! Take for example; we pray five times a day, do rozas, etc and look at our pity! And, look at our great friend China who has publicly stated that God should leave it alone and where they are. Guys; we need to work hard and not show that we can pray when we don’t mean a thing from doing it. God knows! Isn’t he every where and not just masjids! Time to wake up! Recommend

  • Usama
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:29PM

    Dude don’t worry – change is coming…these religious fanatics will soon be finding themselves in a country where the true values of liberalism and secularity will be upheld like Jinnah wanted us to. Recommend

  • N Khan
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:35PM

    Blasphemy is one thing and Blasphemy law as defined by Zia’s team another…..Our people are very sentimental, agressive, and intolerant when it comes to the matter of religion… thats teh reason the self proclaimed so called religious ulema fint it so easy to instigate and agitate the stupid masses who are anytime ready to blindly asssalt anyone in the name of religion……Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 11:35PM

    Good to see people from all political parties standing together, though I do not support their cause.Recommend

  • Mumtaz Qadri
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:48PM

    We have 40,000 Mumtaz Qadri only in Lahore. Do you have this no of Salman Taseer?Recommend

  • Omar
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:06AM

    You all are hero behind the keyboard…May Allah guide you all and make your heart full of love the the Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alaihi Wasallam..Recommend

  • Jan 31, 2011 - 12:19AM

    When I read the some above posted comment, I have understood what are their feeling it was as
    کھسیانی بلی کھمبا نوچے

    I also want to say that Media is lying to report the exact number of protesters in the rely, They were about 100,000.Recommend

  • Fedup
    Jan 31, 2011 - 3:02AM

    @Kashif Naseer – Even if it was 100,000 people just think dont they have anything else to do beside particpating in this rally everyone who participated is way out of their minds they need to be taught real meaning of ISLAM .
    when people are getting free food and money to participate who wuldn’t politicans are back to their dirty tricks and on the foremost is * they are wolves in a sheeps clothing trying to be supportive to everyone and on the other hand encouraging violence against minorities and innocent people .
    Almighty is seeing all this what is happening in the land of pure , each and everyone of us will have to answer someday for our actions .
    will we be righteous enough to stand before HIS pressence………..Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman
    Jan 31, 2011 - 3:08AM

    Masha Allah. God bless the constituents of the congregation. May God give guidance to those Muslims who want to follow the teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH) but try to interpret Holy Quran and Islamic teachings on their own and don’t seek guidance from the experts of the field.Recommend

  • Sarmad Kamal
    Jan 31, 2011 - 5:12AM

    @khurram kaleem: Mr khurram i agree with you mateRecommend

  • Sumaan
    Jan 31, 2011 - 7:08AM

    Love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not inappropriate/irrational, anything that comes in the way is. Recommend

  • Bilal Jatoi
    Jan 31, 2011 - 7:38AM

    Amazing! Going hateful against Islam/Pakistan after reading that many people were out in favor of the law and the Ghazi (Mumtaz Qadri) seems like a point which both the best enemies forever outside (in the state lying just adjacent to ours) and the perfect hidden enemies inside (the so-called moderates of Pakistan) are so compassionately united upon.Recommend

  • Farheena
    Jan 31, 2011 - 8:12AM

    More than 95% of Pakistanis are faithful Muslims, out of them more than 90% are in total favor of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. Give the call for protesting against the senseless people like the ones that are seen nagging against the blasphemy law [the law that protects the honor of Prophet Muhammad (utmost peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)] on sundry self-created, self-befitting grounds, and you will have witnessed people amassed by a way, way, way too larger degree than the fewest peep who’d be out on the liberal extremists’ appeal.Recommend

  • Sara Noor Perriard
    Jan 31, 2011 - 8:27AM

    Religiously blinded people will almost always see everything irreligious as sanity and tolerance.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:09PM


    In dreams? your forefathers since ancient times have been dreaming like that. In reality things going otherwise. Just look around please :)Recommend

  • Mumtaz Qadri
    Jan 31, 2011 - 9:51PM

    off-course, who ask from you? Recommend

  • Humanity
    Feb 1, 2011 - 8:18PM

    These marchers believe their god is in need of their help to protect his honor and that of his appointed messengers. Now that is height of arrogance. That is asserting to be partner of god.

    The marchers are blasphemers. Shame!Recommend

  • Humanity
    Feb 1, 2011 - 8:46PM

    @Farheena “More than 95% of Pakistanis are faithful Muslims, out of them more than 90% are in total favor of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri”

    Qadri is a cold blooded murderer. When 90% of the faithful Muslims condone murder in the name of Rahmatullillalemeen, let it be known that the superior Muslims have become the barbarians of the pre-Islamic age

    Blasphemy is a crime against Allah, who is sufficient to deal with the criminal is the way He sees fit. Allah can independently take care of the honor of His beloved Prophet (SAW). The Almighty does not need any low life Qadri or these third rate marchers to protect the honor of His Prophet (SAW).

    The job Allah has assigned to the humans is to uphold human rights. Brains fossilized by the JI hatred and intolerance are incapable of understanding this simple principle of Islam. No wonder Pakistan is the most hated, pathetic country of this age.

    Enjoy the eggs laid by Zia the Duck.Recommend

  • JihadBob
    Feb 1, 2011 - 10:09PM

    @Bilal Jatoi:

    Well said BillRecommend

  • Mubarak
    Feb 2, 2011 - 2:02AM

    @ Humanity:
    “Enjoy the eggs laid by Zia the Duck.”
    Those eggs have already hatched and ducklings have become full ducks themselves, laying more eggs and producing more ducklings. The growth of these ducks has been exponential and there is no room left for normal human beings. God save Pakistan.Recommend

    Feb 2, 2011 - 4:42PM

    this is the reply to that person who is posting comments by the name of mumtaz qadri. there are only 40,000 mumtaz qadri present in lahore but there are 17.6 crore salman taseer present all over pakistan. so plz stop forcing ur believes on us. we know what is right or wrong. u cannot intimidate the majority… so look out for 17.6 crore salman taseer out there…Recommend

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