NewsNov 02, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
Christian mother Asia Bibi's release from prison has been delayed as violent protests continue to cripple major Pakistani cities and threaten her safety, as well as the safety of the Supreme Court justices who acquitted her of charges of blasphemy against Muhammad. Bibi, a mother of five, has been wrongfully imprisoned on death row for nearly a decade.
Over 2,000 radical Muslim protesters, largely connected with the radical political party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP), are overpowering police and blocking key highways in Pakistan. The streets of major cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Multan, are ablaze with looting and violent clashes between protestors and police.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called for peace and denounced those who continue to threaten the lives of Bibi and the judges who freed her.
“Which government can function like this, blackmailed by protests?” Khan declared in his bold address, according to the BBC. “And who suffers due to this? Our Pakistanis. The common people, the poor. You block the roads, you rob people’s livelihood…”
In Lahore, a protest led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi was being staged at Charing Cross.— Iffi Jiskani (@IffiJiskani) October 31, 2018
The Lahore-Islamabad Motorway was blocked at Sheikhupura. The GT Road has also been blocked.#AsiaBibiAcquitted #AsiaBibi pic.twitter.com/L9Te7miSvq
“This is not the service of Islam,” Khan added, “this is enmity with the country. Only anti-state elements talk like this, that kill the judges, start a revolt in army…They are only trying to beef up their vote bank.”
However, it appears that senior clerics did not take well to such remarks. On Friday, schools and colleges were closed after Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik, announced that talks between his party and the government had failed.
“We are ready to die to show our love for the prophet,” he told energetic crowds gathered in Lahore, according to Sky News. While Rizvi called for Bibi to be banned from leaving the country, Pakistan's information minister Fawad Chaudhry stood firm and declared that the government would not be dictated to by extremist, bloodthirsty clerics
“The government is a guarantor of the people’s lives and freedom,” Chaudhry said. While admitting that the government is reluctant to use force in quashing the riots, he warned that their patience must not be mistaken for weakness:
“The law and order situation in the country is under control. The state’s patience must not be mistaken for weakness. Upholding the Constitution and the rule of law completely is in the best public interest and we will fulfill this duty.”
Please pray for the continued safety of Asia Bibi, her family, and the people of Pakistan.
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