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Pakistan’s minister wants ban on Women’s Day March


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for religious and minority affairs Noorul Haq Qadri has written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan asking to put a ban on the ‘Aurat March’ (Women March) on March 8th across the country, local media reported.

The Aurat March in 2019 had sparked outrage when alleged banners and videos of protesters chanting bold slogans surfaced on social media enraging the rightist elements of the society.

According to reports, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri suggested in a letter to the Prime Minister that March 8 be observed as “International Hijaab Day” rather than “Aurat March”. This has been a demand of the right-wing religious parties like Jamaat-e Islami since the 2019 controversy.

Noorul Haq Qadri continued in his letter by stating that no one should be permitted to mock Islamic rituals, values, or the wearing of Hijaab on Women’s Day by organising “Aurat March” or any other event.

The Federal Minister has proposed to the Prime Minister that the world’s attention be drawn to the discrimination faced by Muslim women in India and occupied Kashmir due to their attire by observing “Hijaab Day” in the country on March 8.

Additionally, he stated that the international community should be urged to put an end to this blatantly mocking and prejudiced treatment of Muslim women in India.

Besides that, the minister forwarded a copy of the letter to President Arif Alvi.

It’s worth noting here that every year on March 8, the world observes “Women’s Day,” while women activists and other organisations in Pakistan refer to this day as “Aurat March.”

Since its inception, the Aurat March has generated controversy due to its slogans and banners. Although the march’s organisers have categorically stated that the march’s objective is to educate women about their rights, and that it is also a protest against the country’s rapidly increasing sexual and domestic violence.

Meanwhile, Sherry Rehman, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s parliamentary leader, tweeted an image of Noor ul Haq’s Qadri’s letter to the Prime Minister, stating that the letter from the federal minister to the PM regarding ban of Aurat March is astonishing. “What will you prove by banning Aurat March?” she asked. 

“Nobody has ever prohibited women from observing Hijab Day. On one hand, we condemn India’s attitude; on the other, you’re proposing to ban the Aurat March?” she asked the minister in a tweet.

Last year, in response to social media reports, the federal government launched an investigation into alleged objectionable activities at the federal capital’s ‘Aurat March’ event.

Noorul Haq Qadri, the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, stated that the government had ordered an investigation into blasphemous slogans allegedly raised on International Women’s Day, as well as the display of objectionable banners.

“Pakistan is a country of the faithful,” the minister stated in a statement. “No such activity in this part of the world can be tolerated.”


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