Circuit | Politic | South Asia
Saad Rizvi was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore to “maintain law and order”.
Pakistani police on Monday arrested the leader of an extremist Muslim political party a day after he threatened the government to protest if the country did not expel the French ambassador for depicting the prophet Muhammad of Islam.
Mr Ghulam Mohammad Dogar, Lahore’s police chief, said Saad Rizvi was arrested in the east of Lahore city to “maintain law and order”.
Rizvi urged the government to respect what he said was a pledge it made in February to his party to expel the French envoy before April 20 about publishing in France descriptions of the Prophet. of Islam.
The government has said that it is only committed to discussing this issue in Parliament.
Dogar provided no further details on the arrest, which quickly attracted condemnation from Rizvi’s supporters, who began to gather near the party’s main office in protest.
Clashes quickly erupted in Lahore between police and supporters of Rizvi, who are also gathering on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad, disrupting traffic and inconvenience people. Protesters also blocked some routes in the southern port city of Karachi and elsewhere in the country, raising fears of violence amid an increase in coronavirus infections in Pakistan.
Rizvi emerged as leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November following the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi.
Rizvi’s supporters have previously held violent protests in Pakistan to pressure the government not to repeal the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.
The party wants the government to boycott French products and expel the French ambassador under an agreement signed by the government with Rizvi’s party in February.
Tehreek-e-Labiak and other Muslim parties have denounced French President Emmanuel Macron since October last year, saying that he was trying to protect caricatures of Prophet Muhammad as freedom of speech. Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim decapitated a French teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class. These images were reposted by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial of the 2015 deadly attack on the publication for the original caricature. That has angered many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe the descriptions are blasphemous.
Rizvi’s party came to prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning on one single issue: defending the country’s controversial blasphemy law, demanding the death penalty for injustice. anyone who offends Islam.
It also has a history of staging protests and sitting out to pressure the government to accept its demands. In November 2017, Rizvi followers staged a 21-day rally and sat back after mentioning Prophet Muhammad’s veneration was removed from the text of a government form.