Pakistan police arrest radical Islamic cleric who led Asia Bibi protests

Pakistan police arrest radical Islamic cleric who led Asia Bibi protests

It angered Rizvi and his supporters, who rallied for three days.

The Minister said that Rizvi's Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party had insisted on holding a protest in Rawalpindi and rejected alternative arrangements offered by the government, reports Efe news. Mahmood said police teams raided Labbaik party seminaries, the homes of party leaders and supporters and hiding places to net them.

Police also arrested scores of supporters, it said.

"It's to safeguard public life, property and order and has to do nothing with [the] Asia Bibi case", Chaudhry tweeted. He said the arrests are being made to contain those exploiting the situation in the name of religion to gain political strength.

Rizvi has criticised the state institutions including the government, military and the judiciary on numerous occasions, most notably after a failed round of negotiations between the TLP and the government over the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy.

During the protests, the demonstrators had termed Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar "liable to be killed" and had called for a rebellion against the army chief "because he is a non-Muslim".

The DawnNews reports around a 100 police personnel have been deployed at Faizabad interchange, where the TLP had past year staged a 20-day long sit-in.

In Nov 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of then law minister Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their lives.

Blasphemy against Islam's Prophet Mohammad is punishable with a mandatory death sentence in Pakistan, and the very mention of blasphemy is enough to inflame violent reactions.

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