Rest of Asia

Pakistan: TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi passes away in Lahore

Web report/Lahore
Filed on November 19, 2020

(AP file photo)

The firebrand cleric, who was 54, had reportedly been ill for some time.

The founder of an influential Pakistani Islamist party created to protest any reforms to the country's blasphemy laws died Thursday, days after leading demonstrations against France, an official said.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 54, who had led Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) since its creation in 2015, died in hospital in the eastern city of Lahore after "suffering from a fever", TLP spokesman Pir Ijaz Ashrafi told AFP.

Officials did not immediately provide a cause of death for the firebrand cleric.

Rizvi in recent days had led anti-France protests in the capital Islamabad calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right to criticise Islam as part of freedom of speech.

Rizvi was widely known across Pakistan, especially in the country's most populous province of Punjab.

He built the TLP to protest the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard who murdered Punjab's governor in 2011 after he said Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws should be reformed.

As news of Rizvi's death circulated late Thursday, followers began flocking to his Lahore home.

Pakistan's religious affairs minister Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said in a statement that the nation had "lost a great religious scholar," while Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted his condolences.

Rizvi had been confined to a wheelchair since a 2009 car accident.

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