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    » 04/06/2009, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Whipping 17-yr girl a “barbaric act”, anger against Taliban mounts

    Qaiser Felix

    Protests and demonstrations against Islamic fundamentalist madness are organised in many Pakistani cities. Supreme Court starts hearing to determine who is responsible for whipping the young woman, who refuses to testify fearing retaliations. Extremists reject accusation, claiming the video is a “fake”
    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Almost unanimous protests and condemnation have erupted across Pakistan after the Taliban publicly whipped Chand Bibi, a 17-year-old girl. The “barbaric act” was taped by videophone. Muslim Khan, spokesman for the fundamentalist Islamic group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said that the video was a fake. However, a few days ago he claimed the action was justified.

    Last Saturday Pakistani TV stations broadcast a video clip showing a young woman repeatedly whipped by a bearded man, his face made unrecognisable by a turban, wielding a whip. She was punished for an “unlawful relationship with her father-in-law.”

    The alleged incident took place in the Swat Valley, an area of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where Islamic law was imposed following an agreement between the Pakistani government and the Tahrik-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) movement.

    For Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry the whipping of the 17-year-old girl by the Taliban was a serious violation of fundamental rights and ordered the interior secretary to bring the girl before his court on 6 April where he will head an eight-judge panel to hear the case, but the young woman did not appear today.

    During today’s hearing Attorney General Latif Khosa asked the court to have future hearings conducted behind closed doors given the matter’s sensitive nature. 

    Chief Justice Chaudhry turned down the request arguing that the incident has already been made public as a result of media coverage and that all the facts need to be brought before the public.

    In a statement, the young Taliban victim, fearing fundamentalist violence, denied that she was the victim of violence.

    Also during the initial hearing the NWFP Inspector General told the court that police have no access to several areas in Swat under Taliban control.

    Elsewhere in Pakistan protests against Taliban violence are growing. On Saturday the Labour Party of Pakistan organised a demonstration in front of the Karachi Press Club, attracting a large number of women.

    In Lahore thousands of people—students, teachers, human rights activists, actors, artists, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens—protested the whipping of the young woman by taking part in a rally for peace and against terrorism.

    As a result of this episode the whole country seems to be rising up against fundamentalism, demanding that everyone’s basic human rights be respected.   

    For their part the Taliban are claiming that the video at the centre of the controversy is a fake and a distortion of reality.

    Maulana Fazlur Rehman, of the fundamentalist Jamiat UlemaeIslamFazl (JUIF) movement, claims that a conspiracy is underway to sabotage the peace deal.

    He has pointed the finger at women’s rights NGOs, accusing them of causing the storm even before any of the facts were confirmed.

    In turn, those who back the charges have reasserted the authenticity of the video.

    Documentary film maker Samar Minallah said she received the video from an activist from the Swat Valley.

    She confirmed that the young woman seen in the video spoke Pashto, a language spoken in the Afghan-Pakistan border area.

    “Everyone knew about the incident,” Ms Samar said, but the provincial government is trying to draw attention away from the violence and abuses inflicted on women.

    Furthermore, she noted that “Muslim Khan had said that the actual punishment for the girl was stoning to death” when in reality “she was ‘only’ flogged”.

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    See also

    20/04/2009 PAKISTAN
    Only Sharia in Swat Valley, then all of Pakistan, says Taliban leader
    Sufi Muhammad says there is “no room for democracy” in Islam, a Western “system of infidels.” Taliban kill a couple accused of adultery. Activists and political leaders accuse the government of handing over the valley to extremists. Afghanistan is concerned of “dire consequences” for the whole region.

    17/03/2009 PAKISTAN
    Sharia courts begin work in Swat Valley with restrictions on women
    Women cannot go out unaccompanied or speak in public but must cover their heads. Girls’ schools could be closed for good. Local Catholics and Protestants fear for their future; some are starting to leave the region. Taliban militia leader threatens new judges; anyone not applying Sharia correctly will be removed from office immediately.

    15/05/2009 PAKISTAN
    Swat Valley: Catholics pray for peace as the country faces an exodus of Biblical proportions
    Unanimously Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs condemn Taliban violence. In Faisalabad bishop leads a prayer vigil for peace. The number of refugees could reach 1.5 million. Some 60 Christian families find refuge in Peshawar.

    22/05/2008 PAKISTAN
    Government strikes a deal with Taliban, Sharia to be enforced in the northern part of the country
    Under a 15-point agreement the Swat Valley should come under the administrative and legal control of Islamic militias. For the United States and NATO it is a great favour for al-Qaeda. Various Pakistani analysts are sceptical about the deal, which they see as a way to carve up the country.

    14/04/2009 PAKISTAN
    Swat Valley: President Zardari authorises Islamic law, Taliban rejoice
    Fundamentalists threaten to kill lawmakers for “apostasy” who voted against proposal. Catholic activist slams the presidential signature, expressing appreciation for the courage of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the only political party that did not vote for the pro-Sharia resolution.



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