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Support for blasphemy killers, dehumanisation of non-Muslims and more: Meet Khadim Rizvi, the Pakistani Islamist cleric who inspired Prayagraj attacker

"You (Khadim Rizvi) told us that angels would come if we tread the path of Allah. You have said to not just kill 1 individual but make a pile of dead bodies of Islam's enemies," Lareb Hashmi said in viral video.

On Friday (25th November) morning, a man named Lareb Hashmi attacked a 24-year-old Hindu bus conductor with a cleaver after accusing the latter of committing ‘blasphemy’. He was inspired by the teachings of a Pakistani Islamic preacher named Khadim Hussain Rizvi

As per reports, the victim was identified as Harikesh Vishwakarma. He suffered grievous injuries to his neck and body after Hashmi hacked him with the sharp weapon over a ticket fare dispute. The incident took place in the Prayagraj city of Uttar Pradesh.

Following the brutal attack, the Islamist jumped out of the bus and sought refuge in a nearby college campus. He recorded a video, justifying the attack on the bus conductor.

“(The bus conductor) was abusing Muslims. So I attacked him with a cleaver. He will not survive. He will be dead soon. From India to France, whoever insults our Prophet will be exterminated,” the Islamist was heard saying.

“We are ready to die for you and go to jail, O Prophet Muhammad. Dear Muslims, rise about this world’s materialism and be ready to sacrifice your life for the Prophet,” Lareb Hashmi went on to abuse the victim with the choicest of expletives.

He chanted ‘Allah hu Akbar, and ‘La ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah” as he went about justifying the brutal attack on the Hindu bus conductor.

Prayagraj attacker inspired by Khadim Hussain Rizvi

In his video, Lareb Hashmi also made references to ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’ and its founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi. “You (Rizvi) had told us that angels would come if we tread the path of Allah. You have said to not just kill 1 individual but make a pile of dead bodies of the enemies of Islam,” he sought inspiration from Rizvi.

It must be mentioned that Khadim Hussain Rizvi (1955-2020) was a notorious Islamic cleric, who launched a campaign to preserve the draconian blasphemy laws in Pakistan. He was popular across the country, especially in Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi was a follower of 19th-century Islamic preacher, Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi – the founder of the Barelvi sect.

Pakistani preacher led several violent protests in the name of ‘blasphemy’

Rizvi was the founder of ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’, known for its role in violent protests in Pakistan. In 2017, he organised widespread demonstrations that led to the death of at least six people and injured 200 others.

They were organised in response to a minor change to the oath taken by candidates in elections involving a declaration that revolved around Prophet Muhammad. This change was interpreted as benefiting the Ahmadi sect.

Sensing public anger, the Pakistani government immediately rescinded its decision deeming it to be a ‘clerical error’. The protests continued and were called off only after the then Law Minister submitted his resignation.

Under Rizvi’s supervision in 2018, the TLP staged protests in response to the acquittal of Asia Bibi by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. She was falsely accused of blasphemy and spent 8 years on death row. Rizvi was thereafter taken into custody and booked for treason and sedition.

The Islamic cleric had held demonstrations against Dutch politician Geert Wilders for announcing a ‘Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition.’ He also demanded the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador from the country and the cessation of all diplomatic relations with the Netherlands.

In 2020, Rizvi was at the forefront of protests against France for the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Islamic cleric had also called for a boycott of French products and demanded Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan send back the French ambassador from Islamabad.

During these protests, Rizvi had called Pakistan to launch nuclear attacks against France for its alleged act of ‘Islamophobia’ after the European country had vowed to fight radical Islamic terrorism.

Even after his death, ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’ continued Khadim Rizvi’s legacy of violence in the name of blasphemy. His son, Saad Hussain Rizvi, is now leading the radical Islamist party and further plunging the country into the dark ages.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi and dehumanisation of non-Muslims

During his lifetime, the radical Islamic preacher was at the helm of vicious anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh rhetoric that led to the marginalisation and ostracism of these religious communities in Pakistan.

In an undated video, Khadim Hussain Rizvi was seen comparing Kafirs (a derogatory term for non-Muslims) to ‘faecal matter.’ He was heard saying, “The relation of a Muslim to a Kafir is an obligation just like going to the latrine…You go to the latrine because you need to…You do not go there to smell odour.

In another video, the Islamic preacher was seen eulogising Mahmud Ghaznavi, who plundered the sacred Somnath temple. He also claimed that Hindu women had miscarriages after hearing the hoofbeats of the horses of the Islamic invader

In a video posted on X (formerly Twitter) by Pakistan Untold, Khadim Hussain Rizvi was seen justifying attacks on Hindus and desecration of temples and idols.

“Mahmud Ghaznavi started breaking Somnath idol. Hindus went to him and begged – O Mahmud! Don’t break our god. We will give you more gold than weight of this idol. Mahmud told – My prophet taught me to break idols. He didn’t teach me to save them,” he was heard saying.

He was also seen dubbing the Sikh shrine of ‘Kartarpur Sahib’ in Pakistan as ‘dirty’ and delivering hate speech against the Sikh community.

As such, it comes as no wonder why the Prayagraj attacker Lareb Hashmi was inspired by Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Khadim Rizvi justified blasphemy killings

It must be mentioned that Khadim Hussain Rizvi had rallied in support of the killer of Salman Taseer, a prominent Pakistani politician and the then Governor of Punjab. Taseer had publicly extended his support to Asia Bibi who was falsely framed in a blasphemy case.

He was declared as ‘murtad’ and gunned down by none other than his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. Khadim Rizvi and his supporters threw their weight behind Qadri and hailed him as a ‘hero.’

Interestingly, it was only after the execution of Qadri that the Islamic preacher laid the foundation of ‘Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).’

Khadim Rizvi had also extended his support to a Pakistani man named Tanveer Ahmed, who murdered an Ahmadi shopkeeper on allegations of blasphemy in Glasgow city of Scotland.

“I’m proud of the fact that we are in contact – and this pride will remain until the day of judgement and beyond,” he said after Ahmed was handed a 27-year-long prison sentence.

In August 2022, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen recounted how Khadim Rizvi wanted her executed for committing blasphemy through her book ‘Lajja (Shame).’

“This religious leader wanted to kill me and he inspired millions of Pakistani extremists to kill me in the name of Islam. He claimed he read my book, but of course, he didn’t. He lied,” she said in a tweet.

Inspiration for blasphemy killers

Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been the inspiration for several criminals, who committed murders of alleged blasphemers. In March 2019, a Muslim student named Khateeb Hussain stabbed his English Professor in Bahawalpur City of Pakistan after falsely accusing the latter of blasphemy.

Hussain’s eagerness to take credit for the murder paints an alarming picture of a boy who was inspired by videos of preacher Khadim Hussain Rizvi and possibly radicalised through social media,” a report in Dawn stated.

In 2018, another student in Chārsadda town of Pakistan shot dead his school Principal after accusing him of committing blasphemy. “I committed this murder and I accepted it. It was ordered by God (Allah),” the unnamed student confessed. He had attended meetings conducted by TLP in 2017.

Blasphemy, STSJ sloganeering and Pakistani origins

Interestingly, the murderous chant of ‘Sar Tan se Juda (STSJ)’ which has been weaponised by Islamists in India against Hindus such as Kamlesh Tiwari, Yati Narsighanand Saraswati and Nupur Sharma, has been the gift of Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

After Salman Taseer was assassinated by Qadri in 2011, Rizvi took out a march to mobilise support for the assassin. Two slogans were chiefly chanted during the procession. One was “Rasool Allah, Rasool Allah” and the other, “Gustakh-e-Rasool Ki Ek Hi Zaza, Sar Tan Se Juda, Sar Tan Se Juda.”

Rizvi would ask the audience during the mass demonstrations, “Gustakh-e-Rasool ki Ek hi Saza?” The protestors would respond by chanting “Sar Tan Se Juda, Sar Tan Se Juda”.

While Rizvi died in 2020, his slogans have assumed a life of their own, living through murderous Islamists in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, who routinely invoke the call for the beheading of those perceived to have blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad.

In a sense, the Islamic cleric set a template for his radical co-religionists to follow, sanctioning the murder of those considered “guilty” of blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad. 

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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