21
May
07

Battle lines drawn at radical Pakistani mosque

Pakistani security forces detained around 40 religious radicals on Sunday in Islamabad, where two policemen were being held hostage in a mosque by hardline clerics and students. Inside the compound of Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, the cleric leading the student movement belted out defiant statements from a loudspeaker, while his followers waved wooden sticks from the walls and rooftops.

“We are ready to fight, we are ready to die, but we will not back down,” Maulana Abdul Aziz cried out, as the students responded with chants of “Jihad”.

The radicals were detained in different parts of the city, away from the mosque but to try to prevent further trouble, said Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Mohammed Ali, a senior administrator in the capital.

“We have completed our preparations and once we get the go-ahead from higher-ups we will launch a crackdown,” Ali told journalists, as police blocked streets surrounding the mosque in the heart of the normally sedate capital.

Students had spread rocks and steel rods across the road leading to the mosque, in anticipation of an assault that the government appeared reluctant to order as the compound also houses a madrasa for girls called Jamia Hafsa.

“The government is not planning any operation against Jamia Hafsa or the mosque,” said retired Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

“We will not let things get out of control. They are not enemies, but our own people, and we hope this will be settled through dialogue.”

ABDUCTED

The mosque has been at odds with the authorities since January, when female students occupied a library next to the mosque’s compound to protest against the destruction of several mosques illegally constructed on state-owned land.

The government has sought to appease the radicals by telling them that their grievances will be dealt with, and a leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League said last month that all issues had been settled amicably through negotiation.

But on Friday, the students snatched four plainclothes police, and demanded that the authorities release 11 comrades being held in detention.

Two police were freed a day later in what a senior cleric called a “gesture of goodwill”, and a court in Islamabad granted bail for five of the detained students. However, police say the bail money was not paid so the students were still being held.

On Sunday, two students were released.

But a cleric from the mosque said the remaining two police would only be let go once all the detained students were freed.

“The two policemen are in our custody and it is very clear that as soon as our people come out, we will release them,” Abdul Rashid Ghazi told a news conference.

The radicals of Lal Masjid have briefly abducted police before, but their anti-vice campaign in the city caused the biggest stir.

Burqa-clad female students raided a nearby bordello, briefly detaining three women, and they put pressure on owners of music and video shops to shut their businesses.

Visitors to the Lal Masjid compound have seen a few men armed with Kalashnikovs, while most students wield staves.

Last month, Maulana Aziz threatened to unleash suicide bombers if the government used force to stop his movement from establishing its own Islamic sharia courts.

Liberals have been disturbed by the government’s failure to act against religious radicals in the face of what the media is calling a growing trend of “Talibanisation” in Pakistan.

 Source: Reuters

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Battle lines drawn at radical Pakistani mosque”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


>> WeCite Blog Stats

  • 576,222 PEOPLE READ THIS BLOG

>> Add to Favorites

Add to Technorati Favorites

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK!

WeCite Calender

May 2007
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

WeCite Blog Feed

UNDERSTAND THIS!

DEMOCRACY DON'T RULE THE WORLD, YOU'D BETTER GET THAT IN YOUR HEAD; THIS WORLD IS RULED BY VIOLENCE, BUT I GUESS THAT'S BETTER LEFT UNSAID - Bob Dylan: American folksinger.

>> Creative Commons

php hit counter

%d bloggers like this: