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    » 07/27/2007, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Fresh clashes between police and fundamentalists in the Red Mosque

    Qaiser Felix

    Police have intervened to quash fundamentalists who took control of the mosque this morning chasing out the government-appointed imam and expelling journalists. A suicide bomber blew himself up in an Islamabad hotel killing at least 12 people.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Violence has returned to Islamabad’s red mosque.  Police have intervened with force after a group of fundamentalists took control again of the complex, chasing out the government-appointed imam and expelling journalists. Clashes around the mosque have caused “some victims”.  At least a dozen people however have been confirmed dead in a suicide bomb attack on a hotel in the city centre.

    The building reopened just this morning after the military stormed it on July 12 in an operation that ended in a bloodbath that left 102 people dead and many in police custody.

    Now the mosque compound is back in fundamentalist hands and they will not tolerate outside religious leaders.

    After throwing out journalists damaging their cameras, they called for the immediate release and reinstatement of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the former prayer leader who was arrested by the police on July 12 and is now in detention. For them he is the only legitimate mosque leader, the only one who can lead Friday prayers.

    Inside the mosque people continued chanting slogans in favour of “Jihad” and against the government.

    After taking over the mosque, the government tried to change its name, but the fundamentalists have scribbled ‘Lal Masjid’ or ‘Red Mosque’ all over its walls, hurling Islamic flags on its roof.

    The police stated that because today was the day of prayer it would not intervene, but later it was decided that the building should be retaken, which was done.

    At present it is also unclear whether those who occupied the mosque were former students or supporters of Abdul Aziz.

    The same thing happened to members of the security forces.

    Police sources reported that some 400 people initially entered the building but their number is now steadily growing.

    Some leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious-political parties, tried to enter the mosque but were turned away violently.

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    See also

    04/07/2007 PAKISTAN
    Lal Masjid: the mosque that wants to talebanise the country (overview)
    It abducts and intimidates; it has even set up its own Sharia court independent of the country’s judiciary; since January Islamabad’s ‘Red Mosque’ is tying down General Musharraf’s government.

    05/07/2007 PAKISTAN
    ‘Red Mosque’ chief urges students to surrender
    Maulana Abdul Aziz, spiritual head of the Lal Masjid, was arrested trying to escape dressed in a burqa among a group of women. Total number of dead is still uncertain but government continues talking to Islamic terrorists holed up in the mosque.

    06/05/2009 PAKISTAN
    Government does nothing to stop violence against Pakistan’s minorities
    This is the conclusion reached by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2009 report. Taliban leader promises total war against the government, an “enemy of Muslims”. Catholic cabinet minister stresses his government’s commitment in favour of minorities and reiterates that religious freedom is protected under the constitution. A petition campaign is undertaken in Karachi against Swat extremists.

    12/07/2007 PAKISTAN
    Operation against ‘Red Mosque’ ends, 83 ‘officially’ dead
    According to the government, the two-day operation against the Lal Masjid left 10 soldiers and 73 Islamic extremists dead, including ‘many’ terrorists. Independent sources claim a much higher number of casualties. Al-Qaeda threatens a blood bath to avenge the attack.

    07/07/2008 PAKISTAN
    Suicide attack against Red Mosque targets policemen
    Blast comes at the end of a conference by Islamic radicals. Suicide bomber kills 15 policemen, injuring 40 more, including passers-by, some seriously. Radical Muslims condemn Musharraf, pledge holy war against US and NATO in Afghanistan, and want to impose Sharia in Pakistan.



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