Video goes viral, JUI-F cancels cleric’s membership
In the video that went viral, an elderly man with a white beard in a light shalwar qameez, waistcoat and skull cap is lounging on floor cushions when a young man in a dark shalwar qameez comes up to him.
The older man was later identified as Mufti Azizur Rehman of Jamia Manzoorul Islamia, Lahore. He was also a member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazlur Rehman’s Lahore chapter.
The scene of the two men is followed by the young man talking into the camera: “Since the video has come out, Mufti Azizur Rehman and his son Altafur Rehman have been blackmailing me and saying that they will kill me.”
He goes on to say he is in hiding. “I have decided that I didn’t get justice nor did anyone listen to me even though I have talked to everyone.” He then says he will take his own life. “This is my final decision. They are going to kill me, so it’s better that […,]” He starts to sob. The video then cuts back to the explicit footage.
In response to the release of this video, Mufti Aziz issued his own. In it he claims that he has never done anything like this while in his senses. “In fact, the boy gave me sedatives in my tea and after that I was not in my senses,” he said. “The biggest proof is that my body was not even moving. If I were in my senses, how could I have not known that he was making a video from his phone?”
Related: Lahore cleric accused of sexually abusing student arrested in Mianwali
Mufti Aziz went on to say that he felt it was evident in the video that he had not forced himself on the young man. He said it was part of a conspiracy to remove him. “After two and a half years, this video has been brought forth to defame me,” he said. “The proof that it is an old video is that it was made in the winter… You can see [in the video] that I am wearing socks and a winter waistcoat.”
He said that after the video surfaced, his letter of termination issued on June 3, 2021, was made public.
In the termination letter, a copy of which was acquired by SAMAA Digital, it says that people from the neighbourhood came to Mufti Aziz’s house and showed the video to his son and the administrator of the institute. He was subsequently fired.
Maulana Talha Rehmani, a spokesperson for Wifaqul Madaris, confirmed to SAMAA Digital that Mufti Aziz had been expelled from the institution after the incident came to light.
On June 16, the young man (who identified himself but who we will not name), registered an FIR at Noth Cantt Police Station in Lahore. He said that he had been a student of Jamia Manzoorul Islamia since 2013. “During the exam of Darjah-e-Rabia (grade four), Mufti Aziz, who was the Nigran (caretaker) accused me and another guy of putting someone else in our place for the exam and had me banned from appearing in the Wifaqul Madaris exam for three years.”
He said that he pleaded with Mufti Aziz to reconsider the decision upon which the cleric said he would if the young man engaged with him sexually. “So, out of compulsion, I came into his deceit and became a victim. He also promised me that he would have my ban removed and get me to pass the Wifaqul Madaris exam.”
The man said he was sexually exploited every Friday for three years and blackmailed. He went to the madrassa administration but, according to him, they said this was not possible as the mufti was an old man and a pious person. They said he must be lying, according to the application made to the police.
He started secretly filming to collect evidence which he presented to Wifaqul Madari Nazim-e-Aala Hanif Jalandhary. “When Mufti Aziz came to know about this, he threatened to kill me,” the young man told the police. “A few days ago, when someone uploaded the video on social media, I got scared and went into hiding.”
The FIR said that three of Mufti Aziz’s sons, Altafur Rehman, Lateefur Rehman, Ishqur Rehman, and Abdullah along with two other men tried to attack him but he escaped.
The complainant said he is scared for his life and wants a case to be registered under Sections 337 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 337 deals with “unnatural offences” and carries for a prison term between two and ten years. Section 506 deals with criminal intimidation.
Rana Arif, a spokesperson for Lahore police, told SAMAA Digital that Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman has yet to be arrested. “An FIR has been registered against him and he will be arrested sooner or later,” he said.
Aslam Ghauri, a spokesperson for the JUI-F, told SAMAA Digital that the party has cancelled Mufti Azizur Rehman’s membership and they have nothing to do with him.