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» 08/10/2011
PAKISTAN
Red Mosque imam ready for war to ‘talebanise’ Pakistan
by Jibran Khan
Mullah Abdul Aziz accuses the government of “corrupting the country” and inviting “the wrath of Allah”. He says he has 5,000 fighters ready to set up an Islamic state. In 2007, the Red Mosque was the scene of violent clashes between the military and extremists. Analysis and Christians are particularly concerned about the situation. For the latter, tomorrow will be a ‘black day’.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The imam of Islamabad’s famous Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) has accused the government of “corrupting the country”. He has called on the “soldiers of Islam” to fight “to create an Islamic nation” where “Sharia laws can be enforced”. Mullah Abdul Aziz’s threats are raising concerns in a country where minorities are already victimised and the central government is hostage to fundamentalist fringes. In July 2007, the Lal Masjid was the scene of a gun battle between extremist militants and Pakistani soldiers that caused more than a hundred dead. Meanwhile, the Christian community is preparing for Minorities Day, tomorrow, which was established by the late Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic government minister murdered on 2 March.

The Red Mosque leader blames the Pakistani government for not imposing “Islamic laws in the country,” of polluting it “with corruption” and inviting “the wrath of Allah by allowing the Americans to continue the drone attacks” that “kill our Muslim brothers”.

“It`s time for us, the soldiers of Islam, to take a stand against this government and reclaim the Islamic Pakistan," he said. For that purpose, “I already have over 5,000 students” and “we will use every means possible to make Pakistan an Islamic state” in which Sharia is enforced.

Back in July 2007, Islamabad’s Red Mosque saw violent clashes between extremists and government soldiers who moved in to put down an uprising (see “Operation against ‘Red Mosque’ ends, 83 ‘officially’ dead,” in AsiaNews, 12 July 2007). Abdul Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi led the rebellion, which they saw as a spark of a wider revolt that would engulf the country and lead to the creation of an Islamic state.

The Pakistani military intervened instead on orders of then President Musharraf. Abdul Rashid and another 154 people were killed. Mullah Abdul Aziz was himself arrested and later (2009) released on bail. The mosque had become a haven for extremists and the centre for a movement that wanted to ‘talebanise’ Pakistan (see “Lal Masjid: the mosque that wants to talebanise the country (overview),” in AsiaNews 4 July 2007).

The imam’s latest threats have raised concerns among local political experts and religious minority leaders. The Red Mosque is located in the heart of the federal capital, and remains fertile grounds for extremism.

In the meantime, Pakistani Christians are set to celebrate Minorities Day tomorrow. On this occasion, they will call for the upholding the right of religious freedom and will demand equal rights and protest against violence, forced conversions and targeted murders.

Nayala J. Dayal, president of the Christian Progressive Movement, said that education and economic development are the best insurance policy for minorities in Pakistani society. However, for her 11 August will be a ‘black day’ rather than a day to celebrate minorities as promoted by the government and will be a time for protests against the ongoing anti-Christian violence.

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See also
07/16/2010 PAKISTAN
Christians flee violence by Islamic extremists in Faisalabad
05/31/2011 PAKISTAN
Punjab: armed gang attacks Protestant clergyman who is saved by Muslims
by Jibran Khan
03/10/2010 PAKISTAN
Extremists attack Christian charity in Mansehra, killing six Pakistani employees
09/08/2009 PAKISTAN
Gojra: Muslim leaders make false accusations, Christians demand justice
by Fareed Khan
09/24/2013 PAKISTAN - ISLAM
Peshawar: as Christians protest against violence, prayer held in the church where massacre took place
by Jibran Khan

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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