KARACHI: A group of nearly 50 people linked their hands as they formed a human shield outside an imambargah, a symbolic gesture to offer protection to their fellow residents saying Friday prayers.
The idea to form a human shield resulted from the several attacks on imambargahs that have taken place across the country in the past few weeks. Two of these attacks – the one in Shikarpur on January 30 and the one in Peshawar on February 13 – took place right after Friday prayers. Apart from these, there were two more attacks in Rawalpindi and Islamabad the past week and a total of 93 people have died from these attacks. To show support, members of the civil society gathered outside Imambargah Shah-e-Najaf near Jail Chowrangi on Friday. Members of the Pakistan Youth Alliance and National Students Federation also joined the human shield. The otherwise quiet street was home to these young adults and children of different sects and faiths holding placards; their hands joined to show solidarity.
“We have made this chain against the continuous attacks on imambargahs, which have been happening in one mosque or the other since the past few Fridays,” said a participant, Khurram Zaki. “All Pakistanis are brothers and this is our way of showing solidarity,” said Shehryar Naqvi of the Pakistan Youth Alliance. “We have Sunnis, Hindus and Christians here,” he pointed out. “We have made this chain to send a message that if there is an attack, we will all be martyrs together.”
The participants also demanded the arrest of Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, which was formerly the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba.
Also among the participants was social activist Jibran Nasir, who came up with the idea of forming human chains after the deadly attack on a Peshawar church last year. “We will be happy if people in other cities also start forming this shield against terrorism,” he said. “We encourage people from other sects to join this gesture against the killings so that there is empathy.” Naqvi added that they plan on continuing to form these human shields outside imambargahs across Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2015.