ISLAMABAD: On Saturday, hours after Hamza Shehbaz took over as Punjab chief minister, the police arrested 150 people, including Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, party senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry, and Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, for blasphemy over sloganeering against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation in Medina.
The first information report (FIR), submitted after midnight in Medina Town police station in Faisalabad, the home town of Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah Khan, named “100 to 150” people for allegedly disturbing the sanctity of Masjid al-Nabawi and hurting the feelings of Muslims worldwide.disrespecting Islam and breaching its code of behaviour at one of the religion’s holiest shrines, and shouting insults and screaming slogans of thieves and traitors.
Demonstrations are forbidden in Saudi Arabia, however videos circulating on social media sites on Thursday showed a mob gathered near the delegation yelling “chor, chor (thief).”
In a separate video, Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb blamed the demonstration on the previous prime minister, who has now distanced himself from the incident. “I will not name this individual on this hallowed ground because I do not want to utilise it for political purposes.” “However, they have devastated (Pakistani) society,” the minister alleged.
Following the event, police in Medina detained at least five Pakistanis for “abusing and insulting” Aurangzeb and Minister of Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti.
The arrests were verified by the director of information at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Islamabad, who stated that the individuals were arrested after they “violated” the mosque’s standards.
The FIR generated widespread outrage, with rights activists, journalists, and lawmakers from both parties calling the allegations “absurd” and “deplorable.”
Reema Omer, a lawyer and rights campaigner, tweeted that the “FIR […] is beyond ludicrous.” “295-A is a repressive statute. “The context of Pakistan makes its application much more problematic,” Omer added, referring to a constitutional provision that imposes the death sentence for any “imputation, insinuation, or innuendo” against Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
Moeed Pirzada, a anchor, described Khan as “the first leader of the whole Muslim world who has raised the voice for “Namoos-e-Risalat” on the global platform [and] has successfully persuaded the United Nations to designate March 15, Day to Combat Islamophobia.”
“Who are the fools who filed this idiotic FIR?”
Shireen Mazari, a former Human Rights Minister, said she was not surprised. “Clearly, the Crime Minister [and] his gang of crooks [sic] brought in by the US regime change scheme are becoming desperate [because] they have no credibility amongst [the] public,” she stated.
President of PTI Sindh chapter Ali Zaidi said the incident “clearly [showed] signs of frustration & nervousness”.
“Religion should not be sacrificed to divisive internal politics.” Whatever occurred in Medina was wrong, and the cases filed against the PTI today are equally wrong,” said Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) detained Sheikh Rashid Shafique, a PTI MP and Ahmed’s nephew, upon his arrival from Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sunday at Islamabad International Airport.
According to reports, the arrest was made in connection with the event.
According to those familiar with the incident, Shafique flew to Islamabad on a private plane.
Ahmed, who criticised the arrest, verified his nephew’s captivity, claiming he had just arrived in Pakistan after returning from the pilgrimage when he was apprehended.
“None of us were in Saudi Arabia, yet lawsuits [against us] are being filed.” “After the charges are registered, residences are raided,” Ahmad stated.
Today FIA arrest Rashid Shafique from Islamabad airport.