On Friday, protestors rallying against Shias shouted slogans in Pakistan’s Karachi, giving rise to fears of sectaion violence in the country.
News Agency AFP reported that the rally followed a raft of blasphemy accusations against major Shia leaders in Pakistan after a televised broadcast of an Ashura procession last month.
The broadcast showed clerics and participants allegedly making disparaging remarks about the historic Islamic figures.
Ashura commemorates the killing of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hussein at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD — the defining moment of the religion’s schism and the birth of Shiite Islam.
Friday’s demonstration saw thousands of protesters rally near the tomb of the country’s founder — Muhammad Ali Jinnah — where participants chanted “infidels” and “God is the greatest”.
“We will not tolerate any more defamation,” said Qari Usman from the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam political party during a speech.
Pockets of demonstrators held banners of the extremist anti-Shia group Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has been linked to the killing of hundreds of Shiites over the years, the international news agency reported.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in conservative Pakistan where laws can carry the death penalty for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures. Even unproven allegations have led to mob lynchings and vigilante murders.
Thousands were killed in the previous decade sparking a fierce crackdown by the government forces in 2015 which resulted in a dramatic drop in sectarian violence.
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