Hardline Pakistani religious leader Khadim Rizvi dies

Hardline Pakistani religious leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who rose to prominence in the South Asian nation by campaigning on the issue of “blasphemy” against Islam, has died in the eastern city of Lahore, his party says.

Far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party founded by Rizvi was behind the recent protests against France over the Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons.

The protest was against the French government, and remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron that defended the “right to blaspheme” under free speech rights, after a French teacher was beheaded by a teenager for displaying caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of speech last month.

Protesters demanded Pakistan expel the French ambassador and cut diplomatic ties with the European country. The demonstration dispersed after government ministers signed an agreement with TLP leaders to boycott French goods and consider expelling the ambassador.

Rizvi addressed the protesters at the demonstration in Islamabad several times but did not remain on-site for the duration of the protest.

He was in Lahore when his condition deteriorated on Thursday evening, Ashrafi said. The TLP founder had been confined to a wheelchair since 2006 after a traffic accident near the town of Gujranwala left him unable to walk.

“He was feeling a bit better, he was eating as well. But in the evening, he once again deteriorated and we brought him to the hospital [where he was pronounced dead],” he said.

Rizvi’s funeral will be held at a national monument in Lahore on Saturday and is expected to draw crowds of thousands.

Analysts believe the TLP will struggle to remain a single party in the wake of Rizvi’s death.

“I don’t think that this political party will remain united as a party, and the reason for this is that the basic glue for the party was Khadim Hussain Rizvi. […] I think without [him] it will not really survive,” said Nusrat Javed, political analyst and senior journalist.

Javed said that he believed it was likely the party would fracture into factions led by different leaders.

Nevertheless, Rizvi led supporters from the country’s Barelvi Sunni Muslim subsect with a brand of firebrand politics that used vast numbers of demonstrators across the country to leverage their street power on the issue of blasphemy, and it is unlikely that his death will wholly result in the power of that group disappearing.

Related Articles

Back to top button