The Pakistani Taliban on Friday threatened women’s rights activists who organized demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day in the country. They accuse them of alleged blasphemy and obscenity.
The Taliban statement followed a flurry of falsified images and video clips on social media. They suggested participants in the March 8 protests had allegedly insulted Islam, which they strongly denied.
“We want to send a message to those organisations who are actively spreading obscenity and vulgarity in our beloved Pakistan,” the statement said, addressing the marchers.
“Fix your ways. There are still many young Muslims here who know how to protect Islam and the boundaries set by Allah.”
Many groups held demonstrations on Friday in several Pakistani cities. They demanded that the government prosecute the march organizers, and they threatened vigilante action.
Meanwhile, messages spread on social media. Moreover, in some cases shared by journalists and politicians with millions of followers. They included false allegations. Some claimes that protesters waved a French flag at the Women’s Day march. While doctored video and audio showed participants chanting slogans viewed as blasphemous against Islamic figures.
“Each and every one of these allegations is completely false. They are part of a malicious campaign to silence women from speaking out about their rights,” the march organizers said in a statement.
The Women’s Democratic Front is a leftist group. Meanwhile, it started working in 2018. The Women’s Democratic Front was one of the organizers of Aurat March. Meanwhile, their flag has red, white, and purple stripes. It had been misrepresented as the French flag. The French flag has blue, white, and red stripes.
Pakistan has seen violent nationwide protests against France over issues such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and restrictions on the Islamic veil there for Muslim women.
Hassan Abbas is a security expert at the National Defense University in Washington. He said the Taliban statement should be a “wake-up call” for Pakistani security agencies.
“(It is aimed at) creating fear, gaining the sympathy of religious radicals and recruiting extremists in urban centers of Pakistan,” Abbas told Reuters.
Every year, coinciding with International Women’s Day, an event of Aurat March is held in all major cities of Pakistan. Women, men, and allies participate in Aurat Marches to mark International Women’s Day and call for the protection of women’s rights. This year’s march too was a hit with women displaying sassy posters.
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