Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, who was the event’s main speaker, insisted the rally aimed to “promote peace.”
KARACHI ( AFP) — Tens of thousands of anti-Shia protesters including demonstrators linked to Sunni ‘extremists’ rallied in Pakistan’s Karachi on September 11 and 12 that have sparked fears of sectarian violence.
Vast crowds of men thronged downtown Karachi — Pakistan’s largest city and a major business and industrial hub — many of them waving pro-Sunni flags and chanting Sunni-power slogans.
The rallies follow a raft of blasphemy accusations against Shia leaders in Sunni-majority Pakistan after a broadcast of an Ashura procession last month showed clerics and participants allegedly making disparaging remarks about historic Islamic figures.
Ashura commemorates the killing of the Prophet Muhammed’s (SAW) grandson Hussein at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD — the defining moment of the religion’s schism and the birth of Shia Islam.
A security official told AFP that the crowd was estimated to exceed 30,000 people. However, there were no reports of violence.
The rally was organised by the Sunni organisation Jamaat Ahle Sunnat and by the hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which has organised huge and often violent protests over alleged blasphemy in the past.
“If you play with the religious sentiments of the Sunni, we will not tolerate it,” Karachi TLP chief Allama Abid Mubara told the rally.
Sunni people could ultimately “get their heads cut off, but can also behead other people,” he added.