‘Anti-Blasphemy’ Pakistan Cleric Admits Sexually Assaulting Male Student

Pakistani policemen stand guard near the consulate during a demonstration following a US airstrike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, in Lahore on January 3, 2020. - A US strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad's international airport On January 3, dramatically heightening regional tensions …
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A Pakistani Muslim cleric confessed Monday to sexually assaulting his male student at an Islamic religious school, police holding the cleric told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

“I made the student a target of my lust with the lure of passing him [in his exams],” Azizur Rehman, an Islamic mufti or religious scholar in his early 60s, confessed to police during an interrogation in Lahore on June 21.

An unidentified male victim, believed to be in his early 20s, registered a complaint against Rehman at a Lahore police station in mid-June alleging the Muslim cleric had sexually assaulted him at an Islamic religious school over a period of three years. The complaint prompted officers at Lahore’s North Cantonment police station to register a criminal case against Rehman on June 17 “under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code [sic],” Dawn reported at the time. Lahore police arrested Rehman on the charges on June 20. Lahore police spokesman Arif Ranaafter revealed on June 19 that authorities arrested Rehman in the city of Mianwali, located 200 miles west of Lahore, after the suspect fled Lahore in an attempt to evade arrest.

Video footage purporting to show one instance of Rehman’s alleged sexual assault of the male victim circulated on social media prior to his arrest.

Rehman’s victim told police he secretly recorded his alleged sexual assault on at least one occasion and showed the footage to administrative heads at Lahore’s Jamia Manzoorul Islamia religious school, who later asked Rehman to resign over the incident.

Dawn reviewed a copy of the victim’s official police complaint document and published the following details of the alleged abuse on June 17:

He [the victim] said that during the exams, Mufti Rehman had accused him and another student of cheating by getting someone else to sit for the exams. ‘Over this, I was also banned from giving exams at the Wafaqul Madaris for three years,’ he said in the complaint. He said that he pleaded to Mufti Rehman, but the latter was unmoved. But Mufti Rehman said that he might be able to think of something if I engaged in sexual activities and ‘make him happy’, the victim said, adding that he had no choice but to be subjected to sexual assault.

Continuing, Dawn relayed:

The victim said he complained to the madrassah’s administration but they refused to believe him as Mufti Rehman was an ‘elder and a pious man’ and instead accused him of giving a false statement.

S* [the victim] said this was when he began recording the abuse and showed it to Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia nazim. ‘After this Mufti Rehman started threatening me with dire consequences as well as my life,’ he said.

Wafaq-ul-Madaris is a body that oversees education at Pakistan’s Islamic seminaries. The victim said in his police complaint that “because of audio and video recordings, the administration of the Jamia Manzoorul Islamia removed Mufti Rehman which angered the cleric. He added that he was now being threatened by Mufti Rehman and his sons and asked for action to be taken against them.”

“The disturbing video, which surfaced a couple of days ago, stirred up a storm on social media as citizens called for action to be taken against the JUI-F leader,” Dawn reported on June 17. The newspaper referred to Rehman’s recent role as a leading member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).

JUI is an extremist Sunni Muslim political party based in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. The party has historically supported Afghan Taliban terrorists and Sharia law in Pakistan.

Rehman is a former leader of JUI who “worked as a custodian of Lahore’s Jamia Manzoor-ul-Islamia seminary for several years. In recent months he has been seen in photos and videos of anti-blasphemy rallies held to denounce [the] publication of cartoons in France depicting [the Islamic] prophet Muhammad,” Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported on June 20.

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