The walls of Karachi Press Club — which had recently been painted with colourful murals of several progressive civil society activists and journalists — were vandalised last night allegedly by members of politico-religious parties.
The messages left by the vandals were spray-painted over the portraits of nearly all women activists featured on the wall.
Though the vandals remain individually unidentified, the walls have the initials of politico-religious parties sprayed on them.
A call for executing Asia Bibi, currently on death row as a blasphemy accused, was written in large black letters next to the portrait of Yasmeen Lari, a prominent architect, historian and humanitarian aid worker.
Lari’s portrait had been defaced with marks spray-painted on her face. A line in Urdu below the painting read:”Immediately arrest and hang Shaan Taseer or you’ll be responsible for the consequences.”
Shaan Taseer is the son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was gunned down by his guard for speaking against Pakistan’s blasphemy law and in favour of minorities’ rights. Shaan recently repeated his father’s stance on the blasphemy law, and has been criticised heavily by the religious right for his views.
The portrait of Zubeida Mustafa, a renowned journalist and the first woman in Pakistani mainstream media, had been defaced with the words “Curse on the Jewish media.”
A mural honouring Perveen Rehman, who was killed in 2013 allegedly for standing up to Karachi’s powerful land mafia, was also vandalised. Her quote: “Development should mean human development,” has been sprayed over with a religious slogan.
Similarly, the mural dedicated to Fatima Surraiya Bajiya, a playwright and social worker, had likewise been defaced.