Peshawar court orders registration of FIR against Aurat March Islamabad organisers

Published March 26, 2021
Activists of the Aurat March carry placards as they march during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Islamabad on March 8. — AFP/File
Activists of the Aurat March carry placards as they march during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Islamabad on March 8. — AFP/File

A local court in Peshawar ordered the registration of a first information report (FIR) on Thursday against organisers of this year's Aurat March in Islamabad for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Hazrat Aisha and displaying "obscene posters".

Judge Syed Shaukatullah Shah passed the order on a petition filed by five lawyers — Ibrar Hussain, Israr Hussain, Kashif Ahmed Tarakai, Siyad Hussain, and Adnan Gohar.

The petition was filed under Section 22-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the court to act as 'Justice of Peace" and order the registration of an FIR against an offence in case of the police's failure to do so.

In their petition, the lawyers alleged that during the Aurat March 2021 which was held on March 8, "derogatory remarks were used in respect of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and Bibi Aisha beside display of un-Islamic and obscene posters on the instructions of organisers which hurt the feelings and sentiments of all Muslims including [them]."

They claimed they had watched the "derogatory and un-Islamic material" while they were on the court's premises in Peshawar and had later filed an application with the SHO East Cantt but he was "reluctant" to register an FIR.

The judge stated that the petitioner's arguments were heard and the record was examined. He directed the SHO East Cantt to "register FIR of the occurrence as reported by the petitioners under the relevant law".

Doctored videos

Earlier this month, a video from the demonstration held in Karachi was doctored to falsely show participants raising blasphemous slogans and widely shared online.

The orga­ni­sers of Aurat March clarified that the participants of the march did not raise such slogans and their video was edited to defame their struggle.

People also mistook flags of the Women Democratic Front (WDF) at the Islamabad March for the French Tricolour after which the organisers issued a clarification.

Read: The Aurat March and the march of disinformation

After protests in the capital calling for registration of FIRs against organisers and participants of the Aurat March, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri had said that "controversial material" shared on social media concerning the march was being investigated.

Aurat March has become an annual feature since 2018 and every year faces backlash from certain religio-political parties, who have been opposing the event.

The marches are organised in major cities to highlight issues facing women and condemning incidents of violence against them as well as gender discrimination, economic exploitation and misogyny.

Following this year's march on International Women’s Day, heated debates were once again seen on social media for and against the march.

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