Pakistan: WHRD and academic victim of online smear campaignEvent
- Initial Date
- Jun 10, 2020
- Event Description
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the smear campaign against Dr. Arfana Mallah, a professor of chemistry at the University of Sindh Jamshoro, a prominent women�s rights activist, and a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), based in Hyderabad, Sindh Province.
According to the information received, on June 10, 2020, Dr. Arfana Mallah expressed her dismay on Twitter when a colleague at Shah Abdul Latif University in Khairpur, Sindh Province, was arrested on charges of blasphemy and sedition. Within hours, Dr. Mallah was subjected to a vicious campaign led by clerics with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party and, subsequently, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, who sought to have Dr. Mallah charged with blasphemy.
A hashtag #ArrestArfanaMallah, which trended for over a week, from June 11 to 19, appeared in some particularly disturbing tweets, including one that compared her to �the female version of Sulman Taseer� referring to the former governor of Punjab Province, who was assassinated by his own bodyguard in 2011 for having spoken up in defence of a Christian woman charged with blasphemy.
Under pressure from radical religious groups and the police, Dr Mallah subsequently issued a written apology, explaining that her social media posts meant no disrespect to Islam or the Prophet. Meanwhile, radical religious groups have further insisted she video-record her apology.
The Observatory firmly condemns the smear campaign against Dr. Arfana Mallah and considers the attacks against her amount to incitement to violence and pose a serious risk to her safety. The Observatory calls on Sindh and Pakistani authorities to provide Dr. Mallah with immediate protection and to guarantee, in all circumstances, her physical integrity and psychological well-being.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Intimidation and Threats
- Online Attack and Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Internet freedom
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to protect reputation
- Extremist group
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 10 June 2020, Dr. Arfana Mallah, WHRD and academic, was victim of an online smear campaign calling for her arrest led by fundamentalist groups for criticising the arrest of a colleague on blasphemy and sedition charges in Hyderabad, Pakistan.