Lahore: Authorities have arrested head of islamist party in Lahore, Pakistan. Hours after
which the supporters came and police had to control them, in this violent clash, one police
man and two demonstrators were killed.
Thousands of Islamists blocked highways and rail tracks and clashed with police in different
parts of Pakistan in protest against the arrest of their leader ahead of rallies denouncing
French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), officials said.
The blockades have paralysed business in almost all major cities.
The policeman was killed in overnight clashes with the supporters of Saad Rizvi, the head of
the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan who was arrested on Monday, a senior police officer Ghulam
Mohammad Dogar said. Ten policemen were also wounded in these clashes in the town of
Shahadra near Lahore.
Two Islamists were reportedly killed in the eastern Punjab province. The violence began
Monday after police arrested Rizvi for threatening protests if the government did not expel
France’s ambassador over depictions of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, government official Naveed Zaman said,
adding that they had refused to leave until the release of their leader, Saad Rizvi, who was
arrested on Monday.
According to Dogar, the arrest was aimed at maintaining law and order. But Rizvi’s detention
quickly sparked violent protests by Islamists in cities around the country. The protesters
blocked highways and roads in several cities.
The deadly clashes come two days after Rizvi in a statement asked the government of Prime
Minister Imran Khan to honour what he said was a commitment it made in February to his
party to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions
of Islam’s Prophet.
However, the government has said it only committed to discussing the matter in Parliament.
The reaction from Rizvi’s supporters against his arrest was so swift that police in the eastern
city of Lahore could not clear a main highway and roads. Thousands of people were stranded
in their vehicles.
Monday’s clashes initially erupted in Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.
Rizvi’s supporters later clashed with police in the southern port city of Karachi and they
continued rallying on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad, disrupting traffic and
Rizvi emerged as the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November after the
sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi. His supporters have previously held
violent rallies in Pakistan to pressure the government not to repeal the country’s controversial
Rizvi’s 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 Islamist parties have denounced French President Emmanuel
Macron since October last year, saying he tried to defend caricatures of the Prophet
Muhammad as freedom of expression. Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim
beheaded a French school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in
The images had been republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the
opening of the trial over the deadly 2015 attack against the publication for the original
caricatures. That enraged many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believed those
depictions were blasphemous.
Rizvi’s party also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to
accept its demands. In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in
after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad was removed from the text of a