Islamabad stands firm on Lal Masjid

A man holds a sign during a protest near Lal Masjid in Islamabad, December 19, 2014. - Reuters

 

ISLAMABAD: A large number of people gathered in front of Lal Masjid on the second consecutive day on Friday in protest against Maulana Abdul Aziz who refused to condemn the massacre of students at Army Public School in Peshawar.

The protesters also called for replacement of the cleric of Lal Masjid which is a government property. Later, the organisers of the protest reached Aabpara police station and submitted an application for registration of a case against Maulana Aziz for allegedly threatening the protesters. They said the leadership of Lal Masjid should clarify if it was with terrorists or with Pakistan.

Apparently because of the projection in the media, a large number of politicians also joined the protesters.

Speaking on the occasion, President National Party Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo said for the last 20 years his party had been demanding steps against extremists.

“Now politicians, civil society and citizens have united and decisive steps should be taken to eradicate the menace of terrorism,” he said.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said it was unfortunate that so far even the rulers of the country were not ready to name the group behind the massacre of students.

“They are the Taliban and it is our duty to eliminate terrorists. We are answerable to our children,” he said.

MNA Nafisa Shah of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said: “We cannot win the war only by killing terrorists or by hanging them. We have to change the mindset and create awareness among people,” she said.


Removal of Maulana Aziz from the mosque sought

Former ANP parliamentarian Bushra Gohar said institutions which were promoting terrorism should be closed.

“Lal Masjid has been affecting the minds of the youth, so its management should be changed. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should also take action against those who were responsible for the Peshawar incident,” she added.

PPP Senator Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi: “It is not acceptable when innocent students are killed, a cleric supports the killers.”

Shaan Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, said media should stop projecting the so-called religious leaders.

“After the death of my father, a cleric started giving Fatwa against PPP leader Sherry Rehman due to which I filed an application against him with a police station. Within two days, I received a letter from the embassy of an important Muslim country stating that the cleric was their (embassy’s) employee,” he said.

Senator Rubina Khalid said terrorism cannot be tolerated in the country.

Human rights activist Farzana Bari said Maulana Aziz had become a representative of the Taliban.

He should be arrested and removed from the mosque. “His statement was wrong which was why the civil society decided to protest against him. All mosques and their sermons should be regulated,” she said.

Jibran Nasir, one of the organisers of the protest, said media was projecting clerics who were changing mindsets.

“The civil society will shut down media houses if they continued promoting clerics. We do not want Maulana Aziz as head of Lal Masjid anymore,” he added.

Mr Nasir also announced that he would file an application with the police against Maulana Aziz for allegedly making an attempt on his life. Later, he submitted an application to the Aabpara police station.

Haris, a former student of Army Public School Peshawar, said his teachers had been killed in the attack so he would continue participating in the protest outside Lal Masjid.

“My teacher of Islamic Studies used to say that Taliban are our brothers but they are on the wrong path so we should pray for them. On December 16, Taliban killed my teacher,” he said. Jibran Nasir told Dawn that participation of politicians in the protest had increased their strength.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Asmatullah Junejo told Dawn that an application had been received and an FIR would be registered against Maulana Aziz for delivering a hate speech and violating the loudspeaker act.

When asked why the police lodged an FIR against the protesters, the SSP said: “No one is allowed to stage protest even at the doorsteps of a murderer because it can lead to a clash. Police had contacted the organisers of the protest and it was decided that they would hold the protest at a Chowk near Lal Masjid. However, the protesters violated the agreement and reached the main door of the mosque.”

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