Lahore police have registered a case against Mufti Azizur Rehman after a harrowing video clip showing the cleric allegedly sexually assaulting one of his students was widely shared on social media.
Although Mufti Rehman — in a video message — has claimed innocence and said the boy in the video had drugged him due to which he was not in his senses, journalists and activists have condemned the incident.
As messages continue to amass on Twitter, #muftiazizurrehman was among the top trends in Pakistan on Thursday with netizens calling for action against the JUI-F cleric and criticising religious parties for their silence on the incident.
Barrister Taimur Malik tweeted: "How many religious scholars/parties have condemned #muftiazizurrehman so far? Has there been a pledge to investigate such incidents at Madrassas in Pakistan? Have major media outlets given this prominent coverage? Sadly, the answer is mostly no – but please share what you find."
In another tweet, Barrister Malik slammed Mufti Rehman for having "the guts to shamelessly confess molestation & blame the video release on Madrassa politics."
Journalist Mubashir Zaidi pointed out that while an FIR had been registered against Mufti Rehman, the boy subjected to sexual assault feared for his life.
Researcher Ammar Rashid also stressed the need to provide protection to the boy.
He tweeted: "While bringing the cleric to justice is critical, the govt also needs to locate the boy & provide him protection."
In a series of tweets, journalist Zarrar Khuhro called out religious parties for staying silent on the issue.
"Remember: the 'ulema' and 'Religious' parties that rally against any hint of offence, be it malala, saba qamar or a doctored aurat march video are not just silent but colluding to protect those responsible for molesting children. Systematically and for decades. Remember this," he tweeted.
Khuhro further said, "And this goes out to all of you who amplify their lies and false outrage. You know who you are and you're pathetic".
Author Shamila Ghyas, pointing out that this was not a one-off incident, asked, "Where is the outrage?"
Activist Usama Khilji said: "Never thought we’d see a day where an Islamic cleric would shamelessly defend his right to consensual intercourse with a young boy when in reality it’s nothing but grooming & molestation."