Pak journalists, activists question silence of religious bodies after cleric booked for sexual assault

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 17 (ANI): Lahore police have registered a case against cleric Mufti Azizur Rehman following a video clip surfaced on social media showing him allegedly sexually assaulting one of his students, prompting journalists and activists to condemn the incident and question the silence of religious parties.
Pak journalists, activists question silence of religious bodies after cleric booked for sexual assault

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 17 (ANI): Pakistan's civil society members are questioning the silence of religious parties after police booked a cleric for allegedly sexually assaulting one of his students.

The Lahore Police, after a video of the alleged crime went viral, registered a case against Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl's (JUI-F) Mufti Azizur Rehman under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code, Dawn reported.

Later, in a video message, Mufti Rehman claimed innocence and said the boy in the video had drugged him due to which he was not in his senses, reported Dawn.

On Twitter, #muftiazizurrehman was among the top trends in Pakistan on Thursday with netizens calling for action against the JUI-F cleric and criticising religious parties for their silence on the incident.

"How many religious scholars/parties have condemned #muftiazizurrehman so far? Has there been a pledge to investigate such incidents at Madrassas in Pakistan? Have major media outlets given this prominent coverage? Sadly, the answer is mostly no - but please share what you find," said Barrister Taimur Malik.

He also slammed Mufti Rehman for having "the guts to shamelessly confess molestation and blame the video release on Madrassa politics."

Meanwhile, journalist Mubashir Zaidi said that the victim subjected to sexual assault feared for his life even though a case was filed against the cleric, reported Dawn

"Important to bear in mind that #MuftiAzizurRehman's accuser is currently in hiding, getting death threats from the mufti's henchmen & threatening to commit suicide. While bringing the cleric to justice is critical, the govt also needs to locate the boy & provide him protection.," tweeted researcher Ammar Rashid.

"Remember: the 'ulema' and 'Religious' parties that rally against any hint of offence, be it malala, saba qamar or a doctored aurat march video are not just silent but colluding to protect those responsible for molesting children. Systematically and for decades. Remember this," said journalist Zarrar Khuhro

Pakistani activist Usama Khilji said: "Never thought we'd see a day where an Islamic cleric would shamelessly defend his right to consensual intercourse with a young boy when in reality it's nothing but grooming & molestation."

According to the first information report (FIR), the victim got admission to Jamia Manzoorul Islamia in 2013. He said during the exams, Mufti Rehman had accused him and another student of cheating by getting someone else to sit for the exams.

He said because of audio and video recordings, the administration of the Jamia Manzoorul Islamia removed Mufti Rehman which angered the cleric. He added that he was now being threatened by Mufti Rehman and his sons and asked for action to be taken against them. (ANI)