Twitter Suspends Account of Hardline Cleric on Pakistan Government’s Request

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Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan Islamist political party gestures during an interview with Reuters in Lahore
Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan Islamist political party gestures during an interview with Reuters in Lahore, Pakistan July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
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By Asif Shahzad and Saad Sayeed
ISLAMABAD (Reuters)

Twitter suspended the account of a ultra-right Pakistani cleric on Sunday following inflammatory statements targeting the judiciary, prime minister, and military after the acquittal of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, the government said

Cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi‘s Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party blocked off roads in Pakistan’s biggest for three days last week and threatened the Supreme Court judges who acquitted Asia Bibi on Wednesday – urging their cooks and servants to kill them.

Bibi had spent eight years on death row before the court overturned her conviction and ordered her to be freed.

“We sent a request to Twitter that this account has been inciting hate and violence,” two senior officials at the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority told Reuters.

 

A supporter of the Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan, Islamist political party, chants slogans with others during a protest in Lahore
A supporter of the Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Islamist political party, chants slogans with others during a protest, after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, in Lahore, Pakistan November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

 

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The TLP condemned the suspension of Rizvi’s account, terming it a “conspiracy by the opponents of the protection of prophethood and Islam“.

 

A second account that was created on Sunday was also suspended soon after

The TLP ended protests late Friday evening following negotiations with the government and an agreement to open a review of the court’s decision as well as possibly putting Bibi’s name on an ‘exit control list’ that would bar her from leaving the country.

Bibi’s whereabouts are unknown, but Islamists have warned the authorities against taking her out of the country.

 

 

There will be a war if they send Asia out of country,” TLP leader Rizvi said after the deal was reached.

Earlier in the week, Rizvi’s deputy and TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told supporters to kill the Supreme Court judges.

 

“Whoever, who has got any access to them, kill them before the evening,” he said

The TLP was founded out of a movement that supported the bodyguard who assassinated Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer in 2011 after he began supporting Bibi, and pushing for her acquittal. Federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed after calling for her release.

 

The daughters of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi pose with an image of their mother while standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura Pakistan
The daughters of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi pose with an image of their mother while standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura located in Pakistan’s Punjab Province November 13, 2010. Standing left to right is Esha, 12, Sidra, 18 and Eshum, 10. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

 

Bibi’s lawyer on Saturday said he had left Pakistan, fearing a mob attack against him and his family.

On Sunday, Bibi’s husband released a video asking for the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada to help get his family out of the country.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. She always denied having committed blasphemy.

 

(Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Michael Perry)

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