Complete strike today: Naeemi; Blasphemous cartoons

February 14, 2006

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LAHORE, Feb 13: On the call of the Tahaffuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz (TNRM), a complete strike will be observed in the city on Tuesday (today). All religious and political parties, including traders, doctors, teachers and lawyers’ organizations have pledged to support the strike and take out a joint procession from Bhatti Chowk to Faisal Chowk against the blasphemous drawings and their European publishers.

This was stated by Ittehad Tanzimaat Deenia secretary-general Dr Sarfaraz Naeemi while addressing a press conference along with other religious parties’ leaders and representatives of the Wafaqul Madaras on Monday.

He asked the government to relax Section 144 and allow processions on The Mall. If the government can hold marathon by relaxing Section 144, it can also allow a protest procession on The Mall, he said, adding the rulers would be held responsible for any eventuality if they tried to stop protest rallies or force traders to open their shops.

He said protests would continue till the government severed diplomatic and economic ties with the countries newspapers of which had published the drawings. He demanded that the Danish ambassador be declared a persona non grata and asked to leave the country.

The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) must take up this issue and cut diplomatic and economic ties with certain European countries, he said. He said through a complete strike Pakistanis would send a message to the west that nations could react to such attempts collectively and effectively.

He said the Ittehad-i-Tanzimaat would also hold an ulema convention on Wednesday on the premises of the Jamia Naeemia, Lahore, to condemn the government action against seminaries and expulsion of students of foreign origion.

Later, a protest rally will also be taken out from Ghari Shahu Chowk to the Lahore Press Club against the drawings, he said.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan amir and MMA president Qazi Husain Ahmad endorsed the strike call made by the Tahuffuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz and asked JI workers and Lahorities to make it a success. He said forces inimical to Islam had joined hands against the Muslims. He said the situation called for unity among the Muslims, adding western powers had waged a war on the Muslims under the pretext of ‘war on terror.’

The Qazi said now they had injured the sentiments of the Muslims by targeting the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He said the faithful were duty-bound to take to the streets to register their anger at the blasphemies.

He appealed to the nation to take part in Shan-i-Mustafa rallies in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi and Quetta on Feb 19, 26, March 5 and March 7, respectively. He said the Muslims should send a collective message to the west that it was not a political or sectarian issue but a blasphemy and the entire Muslim Ummah stood united against it. Every Muslim should come forward and perform his duty by taking part in this drive, he said.