Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Pakistani government has decided to re-open the Lal Masjid, the infamous Red Mosque, closet down by force after a week of violent clashes last July. The edict is set to be issued by the Interior Ministry within the next few days.
The place of worship which houses the Jamia Hafsa madrassah, first caught press attention in March, when students occupied a children’s book store adjacent to the school in protest over the demolition of seven Mosques in the capital. Days later, some students of the same madrassah forced entry into a private home and kidnapped a women, her sister in-law and niece of six months, accusing them of running a brothel.
Despite these episodes (along with numerous other cases of a similar nature), the government of President Musharraf did not intervene until the July crises, when followers of the Lal Masjid barricaded themselves into the mosque in protest at some arrests, leading to direct clashes with security forces which lasted an entire week. The “official” death toll from the clashes was 86 people.