After the protest reached an agreement, Pakistan releases the head of the far-right TLP | Protest News


Saad Rizvi was released in Lahore after weeks of negotiations, which were followed by deadly protests in Muslim-majority countries.

Islamabad, Pakistan -After weeks of negotiations after deadly protests in a Muslim-majority country, a spokesperson for the religious organization said that the Pakistani authorities have released the head of the far-right Pakistan National Unity Party (TLP).

TLP spokesperson Ejaz Ashrafi told Al Jazeera that Saad Rizvi was released in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday night. Local media showed photos of Rizvi being welcomed by cheering supporters at the party headquarters in a mosque in Lahore.

The move was made a few weeks after the government and the TLP reached an agreement to end the 10-day violent protests, which resulted in the killing of at least 7 police officers and dozens of injuries as the protesters blocked Lahore and The main roads and highways around it.

Rizvi was released on the eve of the death of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the founder of TLP. The party said it plans to hold a three-day commemorative event.

Supporters of TLP set off fireworks as they celebrated the release of their leader Saad Rizvi [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

As an influential and hardline Muslim scholar, the elder Rizvi founded TLP as a religious organization focused on opposing the desecration of Islam. The organization called for the execution of all those deemed to be blasphemy against Islam and was linked to violence against the country’s Ahmadi religious minorities.

Tens of thousands of supporters attended Ridzwei’s funeral in November 2020.

Since its establishment in 2017, the organization has held multiple rounds of protests across the country, bringing Pakistan to a standstill and often causing casualties in confrontations with the police.

In 2020, the organization focused on protesting French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks, which were regarded as Islamophobic by many Muslims (including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan).

TLP requested the expulsion of the French ambassador and boycott all trade with the country, but the government did not agree.

In April, the Pakistani government began to ban TLP under anti-terrorism legislation and detained Saad Rizvi under an executive order related to the legislation.

Although the agreement reached to end the latest round of protests was not made public, on the afternoon of November 7th, Khan’s cabinet withdrew the TLP banned organization statement, and the provincial government took action to remove Rizvi’s name from the anti-terrorism watch list.

Not everyone in the government seems to support this move. Information Minister Favad Chowdhury said on Thursday that the government has “retired in the context of the TLP”.

“Many people believe that the remedial measures taken by the government [the government] Is not enough, and the fact is that neither the government nor the country is fully prepared to combat extremism,” the minister said in a speech in the capital Islamabad.

In response to Chowdhury’s comments, TLP spokesperson Ashrafi denied that the organization was spreading hatred and blamed “extremism” on “foreign hands”.

Ashrafi said that TLP will hold a three-day ceremony in Lahore on Friday to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of its founder, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the city’s police chief. And the local administrative director will provide security and logistical support.

Asad Hashim is a digital correspondent for Al Jazeera in Pakistan. He tweeted @AsadHashim.

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