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KARACHI, Oct 11: Despite the presence of a small number of people, the protest against the Malala Yousufzai incident and a candlelight vigil for the 14-year-old girl generated quite a bit of fervor outside the Karachi Press Club on Thursday evening.

Members of civil society, showbiz personalities and the artist fraternity took part in the event all of whom expressed solidarity with Malala Yousufzai who was shot by the Taliban on Tuesday and is still in a critical condition in a hospital.

The protesters were carrying pictures of Malala Yousufzai and placards on which phrases like ‘icon of courage’ and ‘we love you sister Malala’ were written.

They were also chanting slogans such as ‘Darte hain bandooqon waale, darte hain ye mullah saare, aik nihatti larki se’ (these gun-toting mullahs are afraid of an unarmed girl) against the Taliban and right-wing forces. The slogan chanting went on till the crowd dispersed.

The protesters said a patriarchal system existed in the country and if women demanded freedom it was deemed wrong. The attack on Malala Yousufzai was a result of that mindset.

They said today it was Malala who bore the brunt of the Taliban attack and tomorrow it could be anyone else.

They also criticised the government for not doing what it was supposed to do.

In between the speeches and sloganeering, candles were lit which a majority of the protesters carried. After the event candles were placed on a pavement outside the Press Club alongside a poster of the young Malala Yousufzai.

Speaking to Dawn, art critic Nafisa Rizvi said, “Attack on Malala should have been the last straw on the camel’s back, but we seem to be sleeping. It’s time we woke up.”

Young artist and musician Ali Alam said, “Every time I come to these gatherings I see the same number of people. They never show up in a big number. It makes you feel sad but then one has to make such occasions count. The forces against which we are raising our voices seem to outnumber us. It is an ‘us versus them’ situation.”

Social figure Zaheer Kidvai was also of the same opinion. “We come here, the media covers the event and that’s about it. It should be more than that. There are media groups whose policy I can’t fathom. Their newspapers say one thing and TV channels another.”

The prominent personalities who took part in the protest included actresses Atiqa Odho, Annie Rafay, Arjumand Rahim, video director Jami, writer Attiya Dawood, among others.