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Over 100 clerics held over hate speeches, derogatory remarks

September 02, 2020

LAHORE: The Law-enforcement agencies including Punjab Police have arrested over 100 clerics of different sects over hate speeches and derogatory remarks against holy personalities of Islam.

Though Lahore Police SSP Operations denied taking any person into custody over hate speech, DIG Operations Punjab Suhail Sukhera confirmed that action was being taken against every violator without any discrimination over use of derogatory remarks against pious family members of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions.

Talking to The News by phone, Sukhera said special cells of the Punjab Police were monitoring religious gatherings, majalis, and the social media including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. He said the clerics violating the law would not only be taken into custody, but FIRs [first information reports] would also be registered under the relevant sections of the law. Sukhera was not sure of the exact number of arrests of fiery speakers. However, he said over 100 had been taken into custody thus far.

Sources claimed that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested three Shia zakireen from Lahore on the charges of delivering hate speeches. They were identified as Allama Hafiz Tasaduq, Ali Nasir Talhara and Zakir Habib Raza. Sources said the zakireen had been arrested for spreading religious hatred on the social media as well as at majalis.

Sources said the government had given a task to the CTD, Special Brach and the FIA Cyber Crime Wing to identify clerics who were involved in spreading religious and sectarian hatred in the country. A Punjab Home Department senior officer said that 203 persons were detained under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and cases against 67 alleged hate-mongers were registered before Youm-e-Ashur.

Following the recommendations of the Special Branch, the Home Department issued a list of 860 leaders of different sects including Shia zakireen for gagging.

Out of the total banned ulema, 245 clerics belonged to Ahle Tashee, 477 Deobandi, 102 Barelvi and 36 belonged to Ahle Hadith.

The entry of 459 clerics of Ahle Tashee, 593 Deobandi, 159 Barelvi and 65 belonging to Ahle Hadith was banned in the Punjab province.

Earlier, entry of more than 1,276 clerics of all sects had been banned in religious gatherings, while gag orders for 900 clerics had been issued for 60 days to maintain peace during Muharram.

The banned clerics of Ahle Tashee included Allama Riaz Hussain Rizvi, Muqadas Kazmi, Zakir Asif Raza Alvi, Zakir Ata Hussain Kazmi, Prof Syed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi, Allama Sibtain Haidar Sabzwari, Muhammad Abbas Rizvi, Ali Nasir Talhara, Mazhar Abbas Haideri, Imran Abbas Mazahiri, Hafiz Kazim Raza Naqvi, Zubair Qalandri and Ali Abbas Askari.

Clerics belonging to Deobandi sect included Maulana Ajmal Qadri, Qari Shabbir Usmani, Zaheer Ahmed Zaheer and Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Mujahid.

Barelvi clerics included Sahibzada Raza-e Mustafa, Qari Muhammad Ashraf Shakir, Mufti Muhammad Fazal Ahmed Chishti, Maulana Afazal Qadri, Maulana Yousaf Rizvi, Mufti Maqsood Ahmed and Dr Ashraf Asif Jalali.

Ahle Hadith clerics included Maulana Muhammad Yousaf Pasroori and Maulana Manzoor Ahmed.

SSP Operations Lahore Faisal Shahzad said that some of the clerics violated a ban on them and action had been taken against them accordingly.

Meanwhile, religious leaders expressed mixed reaction over the arrest of clerics across Punjab on Tuesday.

Chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) and Muttahida Ulema Board Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said the arrests were aimed at detaining those involved in spreading sectarian hatred among the nation. He said he supported the arrest of all those who commit blasphemy of sacred Muslim figures like Sahaba Karam (RA) and Ahle Bait (RA).

Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslemeen (MWM) Punjab General Secretary Abdul Khaliq Asadi condemned the arrest of Zakireen. He said his organisation would not keep quiet on targeting of Shia clerics in the garb of controlling sectarianism. He said the Shia-Sunni differences existed for centuries but some elements were fanning those differences.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) Information Secretary Rasheed Ahmad Rizvi said the country was becoming the target of enemy conspiracies, who wanted to ignite sectarian riots in the country. He lamented that the government was being blackmailed into arresting senior peaceful religious scholars who never indulged in sectarianism, creating an atmosphere of sectarian tension before Muharram.