The Battle for Lal Masjid Constinues: Another Blast in Islamabad, 12 Killed

Posted on July 27, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice
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Adil Najam

As the mosque formerly known as Lal Masjid was opened for Friday prayers again, things moved back towards mayhem. A major blast – possibly a suicide attack – rocked Islamabad right near the mosque, protesters went wild triggering police response, multiple people have been killed and the attempt to bring the Capital back to normalcy was again scuttled by extremists.

Picture from BBCPicture from BBCPicture from BBC
Picture from BBC
Picture from BBC
Picture from BBCPicture from BBC

New reports suggest that as many as 12 15 have already died and the number is expected to rise. According to a recent AP report:

Hundreds of religious students clashed with police and occupied Islamabad’s Red Mosque during its reopening Friday, demanding the return of a pro-Taliban cleric two weeks after an army raid to oust Islamic militants from the complex left more than 100 people dead. Pakistani religious students watch as a colleague paints a wall of the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

A large explosion went off in a market area about a quarter-mile from the mosque, and local media reported several people had died. Police say four people were killed and 30 wounded. On a road outside the mosque, protesters threw stones at an armored personnel carrier and dozens of police in riot gear. After the demonstrators disregarded calls to disperse peacefully, police fired tear gas, scattering the crowd. Earlier, security forces stood by as protesters clambered onto the roof of the mosque and daubed red paint on the walls after forcing a government-appointed cleric assigned to lead prayers to retreat.

The protesters demanded the return of the mosque’s pro-Taliban former chief cleric, Abdul Aziz — who is being detained by the government — and shouted slogans against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Later, a cleric from a seminary associated with the mosque led the prayers. “Musharraf is a dog! He is worse than a dog! He should resign!” students shouted. Some lingered over the ruins of a neighboring girls’ seminary that was demolished by authorities this week. Militants had used the seminary to resist government forces involved in the siege.

Friday’s reopening was meant to help cool anger over the siege, which triggered a flare-up in militant attacks on security forces across Pakistan. Public skepticism still runs high over the government’s accounting of how many people died in the siege, with many still claiming a large number of children and religious students were among the dead. The government says the overwhelming majority were militants. The mosque’s clerics had used thousands of its students in an aggressive campaign to impose Taliban-style Islamic law in the capital. The campaign, which included kidnapping alleged Chinese prostitutes and threatening suicide attacks to defend the fortified mosque, raised concern about the spread of Islamic extremism in Pakistan.

Militants holed up in the mosque compound for a week before government troops launched their assault on July 10, leaving it pocked with bullet holes and damaged by explosions. At least 102 people were killed in the violence. In an act of defiance to authorities’ repainting of the mosque this week in pale yellow, protesters wrote “Lal Masjid” or “Red Mosque” in large Urdu script on the dome of the mosque. They also hoisted a black flag with two crossed swords — meant to symbolize jihad, or holy war.

The crowd shouted support for the mosque’s former deputy cleric, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who led the siege until he was shot and killed by security forces after refusing to surrender. Ghazi was the public face of a vigilante, Islamic anti-vice campaign that had challenged the government’s writ in the Pakistani capital. “Ghazi, your blood will lead to a revolution,” the protesters chanted. Police stood by on the street outside the mosque, but did not enter the courtyard where the demonstration was taking place.

Islamabad commissioner Khalid Pervez said police forces did not want to go inside the mosque in case it led to a clash with protesters, but maintained the situation was under control. He said the reaction of Aziz’s supporters was understandable and predicted things would calm down. Over mosque loudspeakers, protesters vowed to “take revenge for the blood of martyrs.” In a speech at the mosque’s main entrance, Liaqat Baloch, deputy leader of a coalition of hard-line religious parties, the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, condemned Musharraf as a “killer” and declared there would be an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.

“Maulana Abdul Aziz is still the prayer leader of the mosque. The blood of martyrs will bear fruit. This struggle will reach its destination of an Islamic revolution. Musharraf is a killer of the constitution. He’s a killer of male and female students. The entire world will see him hang,” Baloch said. Pakistan’s Geo television showed scenes of pandemonium inside the mosque, with dozens of young men in traditional Islamic clothing and prayers caps shouting angrily and punching the air with their hands. Officials were pushed and shoved by men in the crowd. One man picked up shoes left outside the mosque door and hurled them at news crews recording the scene.

Maulana Ashfaq Ahmed, a senior cleric from another mosque in the city who was assigned by the government to lead the prayers, was quickly escorted from the complex, as protesters waved angry gestures at him. Wahajat Aziz, a government worker who was among the protesters, said officials were too hasty in reopening the mosque. “They brought an imam that people had opposed in the past,” he said. “This created tension in the environment. People’s emotions have not cooled down yet.” Security was tightened in Islamabad ahead of the mosque’s reopening, with extra police taking up posts around the city and airport-style metal detectors put in place at the mosque entrance used to screen worshipers for weapons.

Pictures from BBC.

89 responses to “The Battle for Lal Masjid Constinues: Another Blast in Islamabad, 12 Killed”

  1. D_a_n says:

    @ Ibrahim..

    it seems that you never bothered to read what I wrote and just saw something that fit your own Mullah-ised vision and that was that…
    let me explain again for your benifit….as I said…I had nothing against the Arabization of names as I have given my own son an Arab name I have always liked…
    and I never meant to mask Islamization with Arabization..I could have just said it…..
    How I wish we had true Islamization and NOT Mullahization…I reject the Mullah trying to supplant himself between me and Allah and I was commenting on the many ways that the Mullah has gone about deconstructing our collective religious conciousness and replacing it with his own brand of exclusionary and hatefilled Islam.. and yes…

    Khuda Hafiz is a very very valid point in all this…if you hae not noticed this change maybe you need to start paying attention to many such shifts during the last thirty years….and as I took pains to explain..there is nothing wrong with replacing Khuda Hafiz with Allah Hafiz….except the fact that this has been a deliberate effort by the Mullah….

    first you subjugate the tongue and the mind will follow…

    my problem is only with the ‘intention’ and not the act itself which as i DID say was benign and harmless…..I reserve the right to question the ‘neeyat’ of such things….

    and I only Wish that people in Pakistan tried to be good Muslims…but unfortunately that is not the case…the Mullah has been active here too…and he has taken advantage of the petty nature of the Pakistani that In my opinin is caused by a post colonial hangover..

    and when people think of trying to be a good Muslim they do not think piety, strength of character an Intolerance for Injutsice and Zulm…they think a big bushy beard….a short trouser and being ‘seen’ at the local mosque…
    this in turn gives them some kind of a social edge over others….since the Mullah has successfully inculcated a reverence for himself among the populace…so people see a bearded guy at the mosque and they immediately go ‘Oh Shah jee tussi dasso..’ ..’oh maulvy sb nal gal karo…’

    in fact…the social measure of a good musalmaan has been reduced to how arab you look…rather than what your character is like…obtaining the Arab outlook is easy….forging an Islamic character is hard work and it goes far beyond lingusitics and is a different kind of submission…the Pakistani Muslim in my opinin is willing to submit…only the Mullah redirects this submission to a different direction and his job is made easy by a largely ignorant population…

    you see what I am getting at here..

    and I say this as bearded ..practicing Muslim and as an ex tableeghi…

    This mental conditoning is exactly the same way you break a person in military academies and then mould them afresh with whatever you desire them to be…if you havent ben through it you would think its because of the physical….but it is not…it is all mental..and the subjugation of the tongue is the most important aspect…if I can get you to contain your vocabulary…then the mental subjugation is complete…
    which is why european colonisers always conducted all business of state in their colonies in their own languages……

    It is a complicated and fascinating process of how this happens and how it has happened in Pakistan…
    pay attention to what goes on around you instead of deferring every aspect of your religious freedom to people just because they have a beard and a dirty takkee on their shoulder…plus an Arab name

    the population of Pakistan has been under a well organised mental attack by the Mullah over the last three decades….

    you would be well advised to… at least if not participate in this battle….be advised of it….

  2. Adonis says:

    In fact at least 9 Pakistani soldiers were convicted for rapes in 1971 war and were given varying sentences. (source: Witness to surender by Siddique Salik)

    No matter that the perpetrators of the most sickly acts against civilians and prisoners (abu ghuraib, guantanamo bay etc.) always escape by only getting minimal punishment, no matter that no killer soldier has ever been given death penalty by US army unlike Major Arshad who was hanged in Pakistan, still the “coconuts” will always sing praises of fairness of american justice. Most such coconuts are always spewing venom against their own people and religion because they seem to be angry with God for not making them a ‘gora’. Pathetic !!!

  3. Ibrahim says:


    JayJay, please explain to us how using Khuda Hafiz is our heritage but using Allah Hafiz is something Arabized. Please show when did Hindus, your ancestors, use the word Khuda? If you had said ‘we should say Bhagwan something’, then I would say yes you are talking about preserving your heritage. The fact of the matter is Khuda is as much imported as Allah. The difference: One is Persian and one is Arabic (the best one), and both are part of Indian sub-continent because of Islam. Also, people like you have problem using the word Allah instead of Khuda but they don’t seem to be bothered by the word ‘Hafiz’, which is also Arabic.

    This type of talk is a result of superficial observations and nationalistic bias. Most of what JayJay and Dan and others like them talk about is not Arabization of the land but Islamization of it. Using the word ‘Arabization’ is just a facade and a way to rile up people’s nationalistic arrogance and bias. Muslims name their children after prophets because Rasoolillah (saw) said so in a saheeh hadith, they name their children Abdullah, abdxxx because Rasoolillah (saw) said so, they name their children after sahabah out of love of Islam and not because being Arabized. Go around in Pakistan and make a list of women’s name, and what you will notice is that overwhelmingly the names are Persian and NOT Arabic! Why? Because there is no woman prophet and men among the companions outnumber women by a long margin. So, at least put some time thinking what you want to write. What are you protesting against? Arabization or Islamization?

    And, this is nonsense about being “holier than pope” and what not. So, this is the level of your understanding that if you are an Arab, you are holier by virtue of your lineage?!! Rasoolillah (saw) said:”He who was left behind by his actions will not be brought forward by his lineage.” And, there are many other such ahadeeth. Your permise is unwarranted let alone your actual argument. Nobody tries to be a good Muslim just to be better than an Arab…what an odd ideology you possess!

    Are you people tomorrow going to say that there is no need to even learn Quranic Arabic? Just read Quran in Urdu or better yet read in Sanskrit because afterall that’s our true heritage! (and I’m not advocating just reading in Arabic without its translation). Of course, the best thing for people would be to learn Arabic! This reminds me, Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, the former president of International Islamic University Islamabad, once visited Vatican on an official trip; there he asked his host if they knew words that were exactly spoken by Jesus in his own language (Ibraani, I believe), and the host shook and sadly said no, and asked Dr. Ghazi if you know of some words exactly spoken by Muhammad? He smiled and said, “Not only we know the words, we also know the exact way he spoke (exact dialect)!” SubhanAllah. Of course, this means reading Quran with tajweed.

    So, don’t superficially look at things and declare them being a sign of Arabization—nothing is a sign of Arabization. Muslims do good things for the pleasure of Allah and if they look “Arabized” to some, so be it.

  4. Akif Nizam says:

    Aqil, see below for an example of “checks and balances” I was talking about:

    “FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – A Fort Campbell soldier accused of acting as a lookout while his colleagues attacked and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family pleaded guilty to some lesser offenses Monday as his court-martial began on rape and murder charges.
    He still faces trial on the more serious charges in the March 2006 attack on Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and her family. Under military law, a soldier present when a crime occurs can be found guilty if prosecutors can establish that the soldier had prior knowledge.
    Three other soldiers have pleaded guilty for their roles in the crimes and received sentences as long as 100 years. Another soldier was discharged from the military before he was charged and could face the death penalty if found guilty in federal court in Kentucky.”

    And by the way, the rape described above, wouldn’t even be a crime under Shariat. I guess that’s why no Pakistani soldiers got prosecuted in 1971.

  5. faraz says:

    Adnan who are “they”. What make you think that all secular and liberal ppl are “RAND” robot. Just like you have concern that some ppl are trying to modify islam according to their own wishes, in same way liberals have concern that we will be dragged to 7th century where girls will not be allowed to school and all art forms will be banned.

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