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Crackdown on hardliners as Pakistan detains blasphemy protest cleric

Pakistan authorities launched a crackdown Saturday after hundreds of supporters of a hardline cleric whose party recently paralyzed the country…

Pakistan authorities launched a crackdown Saturday after hundreds of supporters of a hardline cleric whose party recently paralyzed the country with violent protests about the fame of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

Hours after firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi was himself arrested Late Friday, police said about 300 Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party supporters were detained in Punjab province in efforts to maintain public order.

The arrests came ahead of a scheduled party rally on Sunday in Islamabad, but Punjab information Minister Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan said TLP supporters would be banned from gathering in the neighboring province.

“We are detaining supporters of TLP across the province to avoid any backlash after the arrest of their leaders,” said Chohan.

” Politiet har været indsat i alle større byer i provinsen for at håndtere noget untoward tilfælde. Der er et fuldstændigt forbud mod alle typer politiske samlinger i t he province. “

The country’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry said the detention of Rizvi” has to do nothing with the Asia Bible case, “referring to a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years before the Supreme Court overturned This blasphemy conviction last month.

The court’s decision sparked a furious demonstration led by the hardline TLP, with protesters calling for Bibi’s execution as they blocked major roads, leaving large swathes of the country paralyzed.

In response, the government made A deal with the Islamists to impose a travel ban on Bibi, who was released from jail earlier this month as she waits for the outcome of a final review of her case.

The TLP has vowed to return to the streets if she is allowed to leave the country.

Early on Saturday clashes took place in the southern city of Karachi between Pakistani paramilitary forces and protestors over the arrest of Rizvi.

“Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into Guardian custody by police and shifted to a guest house, “Tweeted Chaudhry.”

“It is to safeguard public life, property and order … Law will take its course and it can not be left to individuals,” he added. ] A notification issued by the Punjab government said the cleric will be detained for 30 days.

In a video message released on Friday, another TLP leader, Pir Afzal Qadri called for fresh protests, saying the police had arrested dozens of party workers

Bibi’s conviction stemmed from a 2009 incident when she was asked to catch water while out working in the fields.

Muslim women laborers objected to her touching the water bowl as a non-Muslim, and a fight reportedly erupted.

A local imam then claimed Bibi insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

Bibi has consistently denied the charges, and her prosecution rallied international rights groups, politicians and religious figures.

Firebrand cleric Khadim H ussain Rizvi is the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party

Early on Saturday clashes took place in the southern city of Karachi between Pakistani paramilitary forces and protestors over the arrest of Rizvi

TLP leaders said the police had arrested dozens of party workers in the port city of Karachi

Pakistani Rangers take up position on a street in Karachi during clashes with protestors after the arrest of hardline cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi

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