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Islamic cleric whose supporters shut down Pakistani cities over blasphemy arrested

Pakistani authorities on Friday night arrested a religious party leader whose followers have shut down major cities demanding stricter application of laws on blasphemy against Islam.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi was arrested in nighttime raid at his religious school in Lahore

The son of prominent cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi said his father was taken away in a nighttime raid on his religious school in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan. (B.K. Bangash/Associated Press)

Pakistani authorities on Friday night arrested a religious party leader whose followers have shut down major cities demanding stricter application of stringent laws on blasphemy against Islam.

The son of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a prominent cleric and leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, said his father had been taken away in a nighttime raid on his religious school, or madrassa, in the eastern city of Lahore.

"Police raided our madrassa and arrested our revered leader," Saad Rizvi told Reuters by telephone. 

The arrest came weeks after Rizvi's supporters held violent rallies against the Oct. 31 acquittal of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case.

Bibi had been on death row since 2010 on charges of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

It angered Rizvi and his supporters, who rallied for three days.

With files from The Associated Press

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