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Murals of female Pakistani activists outside Karachi Press Club walls vandalised

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KARACHI: Murals of iconic Pakistani women painted on the outer walls of the Karachi Press Club were vandalised once again on the weekend by religio-political groups in the city.

The public artwork plastered with posters and slogans inviting people to participate in the chehlum (religious observanceon the 40th day after one’s death) of Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian general killed in Baghdad last month.

The vandalised murals include that of Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect who was awarded the Jane Drew Prize recently for raising the profile of women in architecture; of Zubeida Mustafa, a renowned journalist and author and Fatima Surayya Bajia, an Urdu novelist and playwright.

However those of two prominent figures ‑ Sabeen Mahmud, a social activist gunned down by terrorists in 2015 and Perween Rahman, the director of the Orangi Pilot Project – went unscathed.

Imtiaz Khan Faran, president of the Karachi Press Club called the art vandalism the work of “sick minds”.

Imtiaz said he had implored the men putting up the posters not to destroy the images.

The murals were painted in 2016 by artist Haider Ali, the chief executive officer at Phool Patti, as part of a “I am Karachi” campaign.

A year after the murals were made, vandals defaced the images with black paint and graffiti and journalists also found derogatory comments against the media and Asia Bibi ‑ a poor woman who at the time was on death row in the country ‑ etched into the walls.

The offensive messages carried the initials of religious groups Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and Tehreek-i-Labbaik. The murals were later restored by local artists, but they were attacked again on Sunday, 9th Feb.

Haider Ali, the man who made the images, was crestfallen at the destruction of his artwork. He said that the last time the murals were attacked he had to repaint them, and he didn’t know if this would keep happening every time the art was restored.

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