Jamia Hafsa students claim responsibility for defacing feminist mural in Islamabad

Updated 05 Mar 2020

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Students from Jamia Hafsa have claimed responsibility for defacing a mural, painted ahead of the Aurat Azadi March, in G-7 on Tuesday. — AFP/File
Students from Jamia Hafsa have claimed responsibility for defacing a mural, painted ahead of the Aurat Azadi March, in G-7 on Tuesday. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Students from Jamia Hafsa have claimed responsibility for defacing a mural, painted ahead of the Aurat Azadi March, in G-7 on Tuesday.

The march has also been threatened in two separate applications filed with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration while the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Umme Hasaan, the wife of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, have announced plans to counter it.

In a video circulated on social media, Ms Hasaan said they would “launch a counter protest” the same day titled the “haya march” because its participants will be veiled.

Mohammad Tariq, secretary to JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, expressed confidence that the capital administration would stop the Aurat Azadi March, which is scheduled for March 8.

“If it happens then we too will not sit idle and bring our people on the streets to show them the true colour of Islam and Pakistani culture,” he said. Jamaat-i-Islami has also announced that they will hold their own ‘aurat march’ at 10am at the same venue as the Aurat Azadi March.

A statement signed by “students of Jamia Hafsa” was issued on Wednesday claiming responsibility for defacing the mural, even though a senior Lal Masjid cleric had earlier confirmed that members of the proscribed organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat defaced the mural with the blessing of Mr Aziz.

The students’ statement said it was their duty in accordance with the principles of Sharia to stop acts that they claimed were a conspiracy to promote obscenity in the country.

In the statement, they also threatened to stop participants of the march and said citizens of the capital should force supporters of the march out of their localities.

Two applications were filed with the ICT administration against the Aurat Azadi March, one by the administrator of a seminary overlooking the venue and the second by the spokesperson of the Shuhada Foundation Pakistan.

Allama Tanvir Alvi, the administrator of Jamia Muhammadia near the National Press Club, has filed an application while the second was filed by Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed, who claimed the event could lead to a clash between supporters of the Aurat Azadi March and those who are opposed to it.

All three groups have denied that they will use force to stop the march.

“We support the genuine demands of the women and want the issues to be resolved, but those who incite obscenity and introduce European culture here are disliked by a majority of Pakistanis,” Mr Alvi said.

He added: “The fears are that supporters of cultural and Islamic values might come forward to stop the Aurat March.”

ICT administration officials did not respond to requests for comment on plans to prevent any clashes at the march.

Talking to Dawn, AWP Punjab President Ammar Rashid said: “It is part of a very orchestrated campaign to derail Aurat March, which is ongoing for a few weeks now. All the religious groups have jumped into this.”

He said they also have the right to arrange events to commemorate the day but the issue is they are threatening and stopping us, terming the march un-Islamic. “This is one of our basic requirements while living in the most gender-inequality society,” he added.

Police have given us clearance however, we still have not received a formal NOC from the capital administration to hold the march. We are hopeful that we will get it today (Thursday), he said.

When his comments were sought on the reports that some religious groups also wanted to organise ‘Haya March’ at the same venue, he said they had planned the event on this route two months back, and their call was an obvious attempt to disrupt Aurat March.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2020