Huge turnout at funeral of Pakistani extremist cleric who advocated Nuke attack on France

Islamabad (NVI): Flouting all coronavirus protocols, tens of thousands of people today gathered in Lahore to attend the funeral of extremist Pakistani cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who was strongly advocating violence against France, including nuking the country, over the controversy related to Prophet Mohammad cartoons.

Significantly, the Imran Khan government allowed the huge congregation even as the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues have been citing coronovirus norms to slam the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) over its plans to hold a rally in Peshawar tomorrow.

Rizvi, the leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), died two days back, close on the heels of leading huge rallies against France over President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of his country’s freedom of speech in the wake of the killing of a teacher who had shown caricatures of Prophet Mohammad in his class.

Interestingly, the death of Rizvi, who was 54, is shrouded in mystery, with some reports suggesting that he had died due to coronvarius.

Pakistani activists and thinkers, while posting videos of the funeral, slammed the government decision to allow such huge gathering amidst coronavirus while some voiced concern over such huge following for an extremist, wondering whether it was the same country envisioned by founder M A Jinnah.

“Meanwhile, under our govt’s nose, a massive funeral was held today for a cleric who justified vigilante killing to avenge blasphemy & demanded France be nuked. Our army’s exploitation of Islamic institutions, from Zia era on, turned theological conflicts into ticking time bombs,” tweeted political analyst Tabinda Khan.

Mona S, another political analyst, tweeted, “I have a question: if #KhadimHussainRizvi has died of #corona, as has been told by his family, why didn’t Punjab govt ensure that his funeral followed #covid19 SOPs? Why wasn’t his deadbody in a coffin, next of kin(s) wearing PPEs & a handful of ppl allowed at the final rites?”

Social activist Asad Ali Toor tweeted, “How we lost Jinnah’s Pakistan: Terrifying to see how many people radicalise by #KhadimRizvi and state of #Pakistan happily allowed them to offer funeral at a place where 80 years ago leadership of Muslim League gathered & first time unveiled plan of foundation of a Muslim state!”

In another tweet, he said, RIP Jinnah’s #Pakistan, and let’s accept we are living in Gen Zia’s Pakistan!”

Gen Zia-ul Haq was a military leader who had seized power in a coup in 1977 by overthrowing the elected government of Z.A Bhutto and led the country towards extreme radicalisation.

“Islamophobia in the West is a genuine issue. But when we’re done appropriating the issue to stoke hysteria at home, perhaps we can turn our attention to dealing with our own reactionary policies and the citizens being impacted by them — women, minorities and, yes, Muslims too,” Reem Khurshid, another Pakistani twitterati.