The Aurat March in Lahore had to be stopped abruptly when members of a religious party attacked some of the participants. The attackers had taken out a ‘Haya March’ against the Aurat Marchers. In Islamabad, a similar incident took place as Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) took out a hateful rally in which they chanted slogans against participants of the Aurat March.
In Lahore, dozens of men from religious organizations gathered to stage a counter protest they called the ‘Haya March’ (Morality March), just 200 metres away from the Aurat March. Police attempted to keep the two groups apart by erecting barricade, but violence broke out when men attacked the Aurat March.
Amid security concerns, the Lahore Aurat March had to be stopped and events scheduled for later in the afternoon were cancelled.
Marchers in Islamabad faced similar counter protests. JUI-F speaker Umme-Hassan prayed that ‘the Aurat March women face the anjaam (end) that Noor Mukaddam faced.’ Activist Usama Khilji reported that police stood by and took no action against the incendiary comments.
Organizers of Aurat March Islamabad further claimed that police and district administration engaged in ‘intimidation tactics’: they turned off the women’s microphones, threatened the operators of the sound system, ordered the crowd to disperse, and misguided attendees trying to get to the event. The Islamabad march ended early, as well, following pressure from district administration.
As in years prior, the Aurat March had faced criticism from religious quarters of the country. JUI-f Islamabad chapter leader Abdul Majeed Hazarvi has threated to strike at participants of this year’s Aurat March with ‘batons’.
Similarly, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran, seeking a ban on the Aurat March while terming the event an ‘affront to Islamic principles and social customs’.