Jibran Nasir: The quiet lawyer and activist who is taking on Pakistan’s Taliban

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Source: The Independent

The Taliban called Jibran Nasir, a charismatic 27-year-old lawyer, on his mobile phone. “If you don’t take your actions back, and if you don’t stop harassing the imam of the Red Mosque, then you are putting yourself, your family and your people at risk,” said the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamiat Ahrar faction. “And don’t think that we can’t reach you, or that we are weak. We may be weak, but we don’t forget our enemies.”

The call, a little over a week ago, came after Mr Nasir set up a vigil outside the extremist mosque in Islamabad, drawing hundreds of Pakistanis to rally against a pro-militant preacher there. The unprecedented action came after the mosque’s leader, Maulana Abdulaziz, refused to denounce or condemn the Taliban after the massacre at a military-run school in the north-western city of Peshawar, where 141 people, including 132 children, were killed.

Mr Nasir has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to get the imam of the Red Mosque arrested for issuing threats of violence and inciting hatred. In return, he has been accused of blasphemy. And in Pakistan, the mere suggestion that someone has committed blasphemy can put their life in jeopardy.

The Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad has been a feared and notorious centre of pro-Taliban sympathy since 2007, when the Pakistan army mounted an operation against it. “We are not against mosques,” Mr Nasir said. “We want to safeguard them against extremism and terrorism.”

In 2011, two senior government officials were assassinated after they were accused of committing blasphemy for insisting that Pakistan’s laws be reformed and a poor Christian mother of five be released after being convicted on a bogus charge of blasphemy.

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Categories: Asia, Secularism

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