Pakistani Islamists accused of defacing pro-woman mural

Police and activists say dozens of seminary students linked to a radical pro-Taliban cleric have defaced a mural depicting two women painted by rights activists to commemorate International Women's Day in the capital Islamabad

ISLAMABAD -- Dozens of seminary students linked to a radical pro-Taliban cleric defaced a mural depicting two women painted by rights activists to commemorate International Women's Day in the capital Islamabad, police and activists said.

The women's rights-themed mural painted on the wall of a house near the sprawling Jamia Hafsa seminary was spray painted black Wednesday. The defacing of the mural came after a court earlier ruled that rights activists could organize a women's rights march.

Police said they have opened an investigation into the incident and so far no one has been arrested.

Pakistani women plan to hold rallies across the country to celebrate International Women's Day to bring attention to their efforts to seek better jobs, protections in the work place and end domestic violence.

Women's rights rallies are held every year and they sparked controversy last year when activists introduced a new slogan: “My body, my choice."

Pakistani women have largely been deprived of their rights since the country gained independence in 1947. About 1,000 women are killed every year by relatives in so-called honor killings.

International Women's Day is Sunday and rights activists in Pakistan plan to hold rallies to commemorate the day. Meanwhile, some conservative Pakistani women have vowed to to hold a “Modesty March" to counter rallies of liberal activists.