Pakistani Muslims: "Deviant" youths in London have defamed Islam
by Qaiser Felix

More condemnation from Muslim religious and political representatives, who are urging the government to act by closing Koranic schools which teach hate and integralism.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Religious leaders and Muslim scholars in Pakistan continue to range themselves against the 7 July bombings in London, describing them as the act of "deviant youths who have defamed Islam and Pakistan."

These are the words used by Ali Imrani, head of the Islamic seminary Jamia Jafria  Gujranwala. Interviewed by AsiaNews, he added: "Now the responsibilities of the Pakistani community and the ulemas in particular have increased multifold." Prof. Mir Ahmad Ali, director of studies at the same institute, highlighted the need to "identify and isolate" these dangerous elements, which encourage extremism in the Muslim society, and which pose a "threat to the good of Islam and Pakistan".

Meanwhile, intelligence services have made public the arrest of two men in Lahore, east of the country. They are suspected of ties with one of the four assailants of the London attack: Shehzad Tanweer, born in Great Britain but of Pakistani origin. He visited both Lahore and Faisalbad in the past two years before blowing himself up in the English capital. Pakistani authorities are investigating the hypothesis that Tanweer was in contact with two Islamic militant groups (Jaish Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba), known to have links with Al-Qaeda.

According to Allama Muhammad Asghar Yazdani, the matter is "very delicate". He said: "We appeal to the Muslim community in Great Britain to collaborate with the authorities to save society from all terrorist activity."

Yesterday, Altaf Hussain, founder of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM – an influential political party in Sindh province) called on the government to act "against all those madressahs (koranic schools) which promote terrorism in the country in the name of the jihad." Hussain said these jihadi organizations did not only commit acts of terrorism in Pakistan, they also exported their ideology and hatred to other countries.

For this reason, the political leader called for the dismantling of extremist madressahs and for regular schools and universities to replace them.

Sheik Mansoor, a Muslim lawyer and chairman of a non-governmental organization for legal aid, spoke in favour of the government of Musharraf. He told AsiaNews "Before the time of the government of General Musharraf, some madressahs had arms, but now the president controls all this and the situation has changed very much." He emphasized that the suspects were of Pakistani origin but had been born in Great Britain. "Condemning Pakistan for the London bombs is unfair. It's just propaganda against our country by those who do not want Pakistan in the frontline of the war on terror."

This week, Musharraf launched a tough campaign against extremist groups and organisations held to be illegal; among provisions is a ban on meetings of members and removal from the market by December 2005 of all fundamentalist material on sale.

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