Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s antics in his protest last year has finally led to charges officially levelled against him. The Anti-Terrorism Court’s (ATC) decision to charge Rizvi and 26 others for violence during the protests is one that must be supported, because no one should be allowed to incite violence against others, no matter what their cause is. As a supporter of a convicted murderer, Rizvi’s path to political relevance was built on inciting hate against religious minorities, and it is positive that the ATC has charged him for his words and the actions of his supporters.

Just to be clear; a man who has looked to sow division, justified the use of vigilante violence and openly incited his followers against generals, politicians and members of the intelligentsia for their views deserves to be convicted for his crimes. Khadim Rizvi’s activity on both social media and the speeches delivered in person contain inflammatory and divisive content, often stepping into the domain of veiled and open threats of violence and a consistent call to action for his supporters.

This means that not only is he inciting hate against members of minority groups and those he identifies as blasphemers and their perceived sympathisers in government, he is also urging his followers to take to the streets and take on the state to get their demands met. Even if he disassociated himself with the violence surrounding the protests in the Asia Bibi case, after all the charged speeches made, did he really expect anything different?

There is video evidence of Rizvi using insults for religious minorities, Asia Bibi and state functionaries, and for him to be let off scot-free would be tantamount to accepting his crimes as a part of natural political discourse. The freedom of speech and expression only extend to voicing views which do not undermine the rights of others, and Rizvi has consistently used the religious card to spread a divisive narrative in the country. During his protests, he used the ‘us and them’ mentality to galvanise his supporters, not caring that chants of ‘behead the enemies’ is one that can be taken quite literally. It is hoped that the deliberations in the ATC do not take an inordinate amount of time to complete; Rizvi still enjoys a lot of support in urban centres of the country. The state must not backtrack now and throw the book at a man that looks to use violence as a political tool.