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KARACHI, April 5 Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has demanded public hanging of the men involved in the flogging of a teenage girl in Swat because their inhuman act has defamed Islam.

“I urge President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Adviser Rehman Malik to arrest and try them [people involved in the flogging], sentence them to death and keep their bodies hung publicly for as many days as they had flogged the innocent girl,” Mr Hussain said.

He was addressing on telephone from London a large number of women who gathered in front of the Quaid's mausoleum on the Shahrah-i-Quaideen on Sunday to protest against the flogging of the Swat girl.

The women's wing of the party had organised the demonstration in response to a call given by the MQM chief to observe a “day of condemnation” across the country.

On Mr Hussain's directive, the protesters observed a one minute's silence to express solidarity with the innocent girl.

He described the flogging as a barbaric act committed by those who knew nothing about the teachings of Islam and Sharia.

He declared that those who had ordered and those who had carried out the flogging were not Muslims. Referring to a BBC report, he said that the incident had taken place about 20 days ago and after the signing of the peace agreement in Swat.

Mr Hussain regretted that after the airing of the TV footage of the flogging, some so-called ulema tried to defend the punishment and said that was in conformity with Quranic injunctions.

He lashed out at the ulema for justifying the whipping which showed only one side of Islam. He said the ulema never mentioned that Islam also suggested punishment of whipping for those who levelled a false allegation of adultery.

The MQM leader said he was against Talibanisation and Taliban because they were defaming Islam and with such inhuman acts they were portraying a bad image of Islam in the world.

Mr Hussain said that he was against the Taliban, and not against Pakhtoons. “We are against those who are trying to impose their brand of Sharia at gunpoint....we are against them, and not Pakhtoons,” he added.

He condemned the suicide bombing in Chakwal and called upon the people to wage struggle against extremists and not to tolerate Talibanisation.