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Pakistan: Islamists outrage against Aurat March held on International Women’s Day, burqa-clad women launch ‘Haya March’ to oppose it

Pakistani women, however, displayed unflinching courage and determination in the face of opposition, especially in a country where non-conformity could result in catastrophic consequences in a predominantly patriarchal Pakistani society.

Islamists in Pakistan were outraged after thousands of women in the country held ‘Aurat March’ on International Women’s Day. This annual event, which was started about four years ago, drew severe backlash from the Islamic fundamentalists, who targeted the march with mockery, threats, counter-rallies, slut-shaming, and called its participants “agents of Western immorality”.

Pakistani women, however, displayed unflinching courage and determination in persisting with the Aurat March, organized in various cities across the country, despite the abuses and threats they received against the event, especially in a country where non-obedience could result in catastrophic consequences in a predominantly patriarchal Pakistani society.

Aurat March was first organized in 2018 on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8th, after which it has become an annual event. On this day, women march in various cities of Pakistan demanding equality and freedom. Like every year, this year’s Aurat March had also become the target of the Pakistani Islamists who got triggered over the women raising their voice.

Islamists in Pakistan slam Aurat March, organise counter-rallies in the form of ‘Haya March’ to oppose it

Women wing of the Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan has posted from its Twitter handle, “As Muslim Women, we vehemently oppose the insanity of Aurat March. Stop spreading obscenity.” It has also shared an image that reads “These few funded women are unquestionably no the representatives of the Pakistani Muslim women. We are proud of our unwavering acceptance of every Islamic order, like no other religion in the world can even consider treating women with the same respect that Islam does.”

Another Twitter user Elahy Zahoor posted pictures of ‘Haya March’ in which burqa-clad women are seen rallying with placards in their hands. The caption with these pictures reads, “This is the real women’s day march.”

Still another Twitter user posted from his account named @im_honk saying, “Outside Aurat march there were mullahs courtesy of ‘Haya March’ openly proclaiming on loudspeakers that they wanted to fight, and were willing to get violent to shut down the Aurat march. How can protests that openly proclaim promise to violence be given permission to happen?”

Another user Amna Khan shared an incident from the Aurat march on her Twitter handle. She tweeted, “The only provocative slogan I heard at the Aurat March today was when the peaceful ‘Haya March’ shouted, in auroton ka sar tan se juda kar daingay. Government of Pakistan, isn’t this incitement of violence?”

A social media user named Taha Waqas shared a video by Islamist preacher Dr Ashraf Asif Jalali on his Twitter account. In the video, Dr Jalali is seen raising slogans in support of ‘Haya March’, that is the rally of burqa-clad women opposing the Aurat March. Taha Waqas has called these slogans ‘Necessary and important slogans for 8 march (Aurat march)’.

Rehman Shakir, a Twitter user, posted a picture of Muskan Khan, who had caught attention during the Karnataka hijab row. He writes in his tweet, “Yes I support Aurat March. Our Muslim women should have a right to wear hijab. These are the queens.”

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that ‘Aurat March’ has faced such stiff resistance from detractors. Earlier in 2021, Pakistani Islamists had similarly denigrated the Aurat Marches held on International Women’s Day. In 2020 too, burqa-clad women in Pakistan, along with Muslim men took to the streets against “Aurat March” which seeks equal rights for women at par with men. This year, in February 2022, the minister of Religious Affairs in Pakistan had written a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to declare International Women’s Day as the International Hijab Day. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan has held Haya March of burqa-clad women in various cities to oppose the Aurat March on women’s day.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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