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Pakistan Arrests Cleric Whose Supporters Held Violent Rallies Over Blasphemy Law

Khadim Hussain Rizvi speaks to supporters during a protest following the Supreme Court's decision to acquit Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy, in Lahore on November 2.

Pakistani authorities have arrested a radical Islamic cleric whose followers held violent rallies against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the hard-line Tehrik-e Labaik party was arrested late on November 23 in the eastern city of Lahore, the party said in a statement.

Police said that Rizvi's supporters clashed with police soon after he was taken away, with at least five people wounded.

Scores of the cleric’s supporters were detained by police, the party statement said.

Earlier this month, Rizvi led three days of violent protests in several cities over the Supreme Court's acquittal and release of Asia Bibi on October 31.

Asia Bibi had spent eight years on death row on a blasphemy conviction.

The protesters blocked roads and threatened the judges who acquitted Asia Bibi.

Rizvi ended the protests after the authorities said Asia Bibi would not leave the country until a petition against her acquittal was reviewed.

Rizvi’s detention appeared to set up a new confrontation, with the cleric urging his supporters earlier in the day to take to the streets if he was arrested.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP