The All Parties Ahl-i-Sunnat Conference on Thursday urged their supporters to boycott products from Western countries in protest against an anti-Islam movie made in America.
A resolution carried at the end of the conference, which was held at Jamia Naeemia and attended by representatives of 40 Barelvi Sunni parties, also condemned protesters in Pakistan who committed arson and vandalism while protesting against the movie. The resolution termed the making of the anti-Islam movie an act of terrorism and a bid to create conflict between religions.
The resolution also addressed the United Nations, saying the body should amend its charter to make blasphemy an international crime. It also demanded a code of ethics for media whereby it agreed not to air blasphemous material anywhere in the world.
The Barelvi parites demanded that the rulers of Muslim countries record their protest against the film in an effective way and that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference hold a meeting on the subject. They said the matter should be taken up in the International Court of Justice. They demanded that the Pakistan government explain its policy for the defence of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). They said the government must allow peaceful protests and crack down on those using the film as an excuse to riot. Finally, they reminded the government of its responsibility to ensure that all non-Muslims living in Pakistan and their worship places were safe.
‘Govt sheltering terrorists’
Sunni Ittehad Council Chairman Haji Fazle Karim, addressing the conference, said that the movie was a Western attempt to portray Muslims as intolerant and that they had done this before. He said banned militant organisations were behind the violence in the protests against the film and they were operating “under the government’s shelter”. He said all the people arrested for violent protests in Lahore had been granted bail, which showed that the government had backed them.
Karim said that the United States was an “international terrorist”. He demanded the government convene a joint session of parliament to discuss its strategy against blasphemy. He asked the participants to educate the people about the movie during their Friday sermons.
He said the Sunni Ittehad Council would set off on a train march from Karachi on October 14. They would arrive in Lahore the next day and then set off for Islamabad. He said that he had changed the name from the ‘Pakistan Bachao March’ to the ‘Tahaffuz Namoos-i-Risalat March’.
Sunni Tehrik head Sarwat Ijaz Qadri accused the media of not giving adequate coverage to their protests. He said the media sold its coverage and the SIC couldn’t afford to buy it. He said that the ST could force the media to mend its ways, but first it would like to hold talks with the owners of media outlets.
He criticised television channels, saying that they invited heads of terrorist groups to their programmes to ask them about their views on how to deal with terrorism. He said blasphemy laws like Pakistan’s should be introduced all over the world.
At the end of his speech, Qadri urged the participants to vote for him in the next general elections. He said if he was elected, he would hang the terrorists in public.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2012.