On Monday, October 25, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the interior minister of Pakistan, made a bizarre claim about his country's cricket victory. In a video posted on Twitter, Ahmed claims that "Pakistan's triumph against India is a victory of Islam." "All Muslims throughout the world are rejoicing," he added.
پاکستان انڈیا میچ ٹکرا:
پاکستانی کرکٹ ٹیم اور عوام کو مبارکباد پیش کرتا ہوں.https://t.co/Tc0IG0n2DJ@GovtofPakistan @ImranKhanPTI #PakvsIndia pic.twitter.com/e9RkffrK2O
— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) October 24, 2021
Many were quick to criticize the minister's religiously inspired claim over a sports victory. One Twitter user criticized Ahmed's statement of claiming the victory for Islam followed by an emoji of a person facepalming.
Sheikh Rasheed describes #Pakistan’s victory against India in the #T20WorldCup match as a "victory of Islam", and, he is a minister♀️
Comparing sports with religion.??
Chill, congratulate your boys, it's just a cricket match that you've won after yrs@TarekFatah @kakar_harsha pic.twitter.com/Apb7H4PAg1
— Sajeda Akhtar (@Sajeda_Akhtar) October 25, 2021
Ahmed also instructed security and police personnel to remove barricades on the streets to allow citizens to celebrate Pakistan's victory over India in a cricket match.
This reckless and callous announcement of Pakistan's top government official comes as the country is gripped in ongoing violent protests by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan' (TLP). The Islamist far-right group began a "long march" from Lahore towards Islamabad to pressure the government to release its leader, Saad Rizvi.
Lahore High Court declared that the government did not have enough evidence for the administrative and anti-terrorism charges to justify Rizvi's detention earlier this month. The court ordered his immediate release. Rizvi's continued detention is one of the reasons for TLP's escalating violent protests that left two police officers and two protesters dead.
On Sunday, October 24, before releasing his incendiary claims over the cricket victory, Ahmed announced that the government is "willing to drop charges against TLP activists and leaders." The minister's statement has caused added tension to the animosity towards the Hindu minority in Pakistan.