Shia clerics insist on bringing out processions

Updated May 09, 2020

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In this file photo, members of the Shia community take part in a procession.  — AFP/File
In this file photo, members of the Shia community take part in a procession. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Several Shia groups have conveyed to the government that they will bring out processions to commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali and it cannot ban them.

The resolve was expressed by top Shia clerics belonging to different religio-political groups during a meeting with Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri here on Friday. The Shia clerics belonging to Sindh and Punjab participated in the meeting through video link.

The minister said the current situation required the protection of people from coronavirus and it should be the top priority. He said that permission for the processions would be granted after consultation with the provinces.

The meeting was called to discuss the mourning processions and gatherings related to the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali falling on May 13 to 15 (19th to 21st Ramazan).

While the Sindh government took the decision to ban the processions on April 28, the leaders of Shia groups expressed their defiance only two days ago.

Leaders of Shia groups meet minister

“This created a conflict-like situation. The government should have controlled the social media activism by sectarian groups,” said a senior Shia cleric. He said some proscribed groups had issued provocative and derogatory statements on social media following the Sindh government’s decision.

During the meeting, Mr Qadri lauded the clerics’ role and said religious circles had largely implemented the 20-point action plan agreed between the government and ulema. He praised the managements of Shia mosques for abiding by the directives.

The meeting was attended by Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen head Allama Nasir Abbas, Shia Ulema Council secretary general Allama Arif Wahidi and Tehreek Nifaz-i-Fiqah Jafaria (TNFJ) senior leaders Allama Basharat Imami and Allama Qamar Zaidi.

Allama Nasir Abbas and Allama Arif Wahidi pointed out that President Arif Alvi had announced that the processions commemorating the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali too would be allowed following the SOPs agreed under the 20-point action plan.

However, Allama Qamar Zaidi told the religious affairs minister that the TNFJ would not accept any obstruction or binding to restrict the processions.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020