Religious minorities, as well as secular Muslims, in Pakistan fear the rise of radical Islamist groups using violent demonstrations and false accusations of blasphemy to gain political power. Recently, members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik in Punjab staged a protest against a legal amendment they considered anti-Islam and blasphemous. After weeks of protest, with some outbreaks of violence, the government caved into the demands of this radical group. Christians, Hindus, and secular Muslims fear the rise of groups like the Tehreek-e-Labaik because of their stated agenda to base Pakistan’s laws on their fundamentalist version of Sharia law.
12/08/2017 Pakistan (UCAN) – One whisper and you are dead.
Irfan Mufti, deputy director of the secular activist group South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, posted this message on social media recently.
He was warning of the rise in Pakistan of extremist Muslim cults such as Tehreek-e-Labaik in Punjab province.
Christian and other minority religious leaders also fear the growing political influence of Tehreek-e-Labaik.
This group recently staged a series of violent demonstrations in Punjab, accusing the national government of pursuing an anti-Islamist agenda.
The sect attacks moderate Muslims as well as Christians, Hindus and others.
Further, Tehreek-e-Labaik demands the introduction of draconian Islamic Sharia law, which would impose severe punishments for a wide range of offences.
Critics have accused Tehreek-e-Labaik of promoting Jihadi radicalism aimed at making Pakistan an Islamic state.
Mufti warned that cult worship of the Prophet Muhammad was developing into a form of hysteria.
And their propaganda weapon of choice was the making of blasphemy accusations.
“One whisper and you are dead,” Mufti stated in his message shared on social media.
Farooq Tariq Henry Olsen, spokesperson for the Awami Workers Party, told a Dec. 6 seminar that the rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan was “fascist” in nature.
Referring to Tehreek-e-Labaik and other Islamic hardliners, Tariq warned that sermons by radical clerics promoted violence.
“The Muslim saints never used this language,” Tariq said.
“But the state has shamelessly given in to these groups.”
This was a reference to the government agreeing to a wide range of demands from militant demonstrators, including the resignation of a minister accused of attempting to modify anti-blasphemy laws.
“For the first time in the country’s history, a violent group has been awarded with state money,” he said.
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