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Pakistan: Anti-Shia protests shake Karachi as fears of sectarian violence grips country

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Karachi on Friday in a massive anti Shia demonstration which has sparked fears of sectarian violence in Pakistan. After the massive protests, the hashtag #ShiaGenocide began trending on Pakistani social media.

Sea of protestors were seen chanting Shias are Kaffir” (disbelievers) and holding banners of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a terrorist organization, linked to the killing of Shias over the years.

This comes after some major Shia leaders in the country allegedly made disparaging remarks against Islam in a televised broadcast of an Ashura procession last month, according to media reports.

Afreen, an activist, said that that several Shia Muslims have been attacked for reciting religious scriptures and partaking in Ashura commemorations since the beginning of Muharram. She believes that Prime Minister Imran Khan should be held accountable, accusing him of supporting hate speech against Shia Muslims.

“Since the start of Muharram, we have seen numerous Shia believers targetted for reciting religious scriptures and partaking in Ashura commemorations. This demonstration should not be taken lightly when our brothers and sisters are being kidnapped and killed for their beliefs,” Afreen said in a tweet.

“Some years ago, Shias in Pakistan were receiving anonymous text messages that said `kill the Shia`. Terrorists hurled grenades where Ashura processions were taking place. The Shia in Kashmir and Kabul are also under siege and yet some still believe #ShiaGenocide is a myth,” Afreen said in another tweet.

She wrote, “I have been told that one demand was to proscribe Ashura processions in Pakistan. It should be made clear that Pakistan`s government has allowed known terrorists to spread their anti-Shia rhetoric far and wide. @ImranKhanPTI should be held accountable.”

One twitter user wrote: ” I am a #Shia living n Karachi. Yesterday, my city echoed with the chants of Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir. Few hrs later, state arrested #BilalFarooqi who is one of the rare journalists covering sectarian violence/orgs. If this is not step by step towards #ShiaGenocide then what it is?”

It must be noted that Blasphemy in Pakistan could even lead to death penalty in certain cases for allegedly making insensitive remarks on Islam.