Jamiat Ulema Islam-F leader, Mulana Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi gestures during press conference at press club in Islamabad on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: A number of political and religious parties and groups announced on Wednesday that a campaign to protect the blasphemy law would be launched and gave a call for countrywide protest demonstrations on Dec 24 and a shutter-down strike on Dec 31. They also resolved to hold a public meeting in Karachi on Jan 9.

The decision was announced by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a news conference on the conclusion of the daylong Tahaffuz-i-Nabuwat Conference which was attended by top leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-Q and Jamaatud Dawa and representatives of Wafaqul Madaris and many other smaller religious organisations and groups.

Maulana Fazl said that all religious parties were united on the issue. He vowed to resist any move by the government to make changes in the existing blasphemy law.

The issue came to the light when PPP’s MNA Sherry Rehman submitted a private member bill to the National Assembly Secretariat last month, seeking some changes in the blasphemy law with an aim to avoid the misuse of the law.

The JUI-F chief, who presided over the conference, said all the mosques in the country would organise protest demonstrations on Dec 24 after Friday prayers. He said a big public meeting and protest demonstration would be held in Karachi on Jan 9, which would be attended by all central leaders of religious parties.

He said an action plan would also be unveiled at the meeting.

He announced that former MNA Dr Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair had been made chairman of Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat committee with an aim to organise the movement at grassroots level.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman made an appeal to traders’ organisations and associations of small and big markets to extend their support to the movement and make the shutter-down strike a success. He said that their protest would be so forceful that no one would dare to think about changing the blasphemy law.

Earlier, during the conference, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declared that his party would oppose every move to change the blasphemy law in the Parliament.

JI chief Munawar Hassan said it was wrong to say that the blasphemy law had affected only minorities in the country.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed suggested that the present movement should at the later stage be converted into a movement for the enforcement of Islamic system in the country.

The participants appealed to the media to play an effective role in making the movement a success for the cause of Islam and to show its love for the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

PML-N’s MNA from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also attended the conference in which some of the speakers, including Maulana Attaul Momin Shah Bukhari of Majlis Ahrarul Islam lashed out at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for keeping a silence on the issue.

Dr Tariq Fazal gave an explanation that Senator Raja Zafarul Haq had been assigned the task to represent the party in the conference but he had to go to his native town after receiving news about the death of a relative.

The conference was also attended by Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawa, Maulana Abdul Majeed Ludhianvi of Majlis Tahaffuz-i-Khatam Nabuwat, Qari Hanif Jalandhary and Dr Abdul Razzaq Sikandar of Wafaqul Madaris, Hafiz Aakif Saeed of Tanzim Islami, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Allama Sajid Naqvi.

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