KARACHI: Islamists held rallies in major Pakistani cities Monday to denounce a gay rights event hosted last month by the United States embassy, calling for a “holy war” against ally Washington.
Around 100 demonstrators in the southern port city of Karachi protested, calling the meeting “an assault on Pakistan's Islamic culture”, while there were similar demonstrations in the capital Islamabad and in Lahore.
“We condemn the American conspiracy to encourage bisexualism in our country,” said Mohammad Hussain Mehnati, city chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan's largest Islamic party, while leading a rally.
“They have destroyed us physically, imposed the so-called war on terrorism on us and now they have unleashed cultural terrorism on us,” he said above the din of slogans of “Death to America” by his party cadres.
“This meeting shows cruel America has unleashed a storm of immoral values on our great Islamic values, which we'll resist at all costs,” Mehnati said.
A statement posted on the US Embassy website said its Islamabad office hosted its first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Celebration on June 26.
“This gathering demonstrated continued US Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society,” it said.
In the capital, about 30 youths from Islami Jamiat Tulba (IJT), the student wing of JI, burnt a US flag and shouted “we are ready for jihad against the US”, referring to holy war.
A banner at the rally read: “Americans, we will not allow you to spread your vulgar and ugly civilisation in Pakistan.””Through our peaceful rally we want to give message through the media that we will not allow these people (gays) to live here and they should be immediately deported out of Pakistan,” said Noorul Bashar, of IJT Islamabad.
In the eastern city of Lahore, some 150 students from IJT and about two dozen activists of pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam also held anti-US rallies, police and witnesses said.