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Religious Cleric Threatens Suicide Attacks
Firebrand militant declares establishment of religious courts in Islamabad
Umer Farooq (umer)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-07 03:37 (KST)   
A firebrand leader of militant religious students in Islamabad has threatened the Musharraf government with suicide bombings if the government uses force against a controversial madrassa to put an end to the students' attempts to enforce strict religious law in Islamabad.

Cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz also announced the establishment of a religious court in Islamabad which would punish perpetrators of moral crimes in the capital. He issued a one-month ultimatum to the government to stop all immoral activities in Islamabad.

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"If the government fails to eradicate all these moral evils from the society within the specified period of one month the students of the seminary will themselves take actions against all the people involved in such activities," said Aziz, while addressing a Friday prayer congregation at the famous Lal Masjid (Red Msoque).

In his speech the cleric identified liquor, drugs, music, feature movies and photographs of women as the moral evils against which he has decided to launch a crusade.

He announced the establishment of religious court within the precincts of the seminary and appointed a panel of "ten eminent jurists, well versed in Islamic law" as judges of the court.

The court will start functioning immediately and the cleric appealed to the people of Islamabad to bring to the notice of the court any immoral activity going on in their area, he said.

The female religious students of the seminary stunned the population when they raided an alleged brothel and kidnapped three women from there. At that time the students vowed to continue their moral crusade against immoral activities in Islamabad.

Islamabad witnessed one week of high tensions after the students not only kidnapped three women but also four police officers from a police post located nearby the religious seminary.

The tensions came down only after the policemen and three women were released by the religious students.

"We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the enforcement of Shariat (Islamic law) in the country," Aziz said while warning the government that he had thousands of supporters throughout the country who are ready to lay down their lives in the cause of Islam.

He offered the owners of the video centers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad financial assistance to start a new business if they voluntarily decide to close shop.

In his speech the cleric clearly warned the government that if the latter used force against the Hafsa madrassa, they would retaliate by launching suicide bombings throughout the country.

"If government is considering operation against the seminary, out last resort will be suicide attacks," he said.

Pakistan's interior Minister Aftab Sherpao lashed out at the cleric by saying, "We already know that they are training the youth of the country for suicide bombings."

Officials sources said that the government has decided to avoid using force against the administration and students of Hafsa and are trying to resolve the issue through dialogue.

"In order to avoid possible collateral damage, we will prefer to go for negotiations instead of conducting an operation against the students," Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said.

The minister said that religious courts could not be set up at the behest of the administration of the Madrassa and the Lal Masjid.

"The government is showing immense patience over the activities of over 3,000 female students of the seminary," the minister said. He said that Ulema of the country supported the government's stance on the issue and termed the steps taken by students of the seminary "un-Islamic" and against the laws of the country.

The minister said that cases had been registered against Madrrassa students and its administrators for abducting security personnel and three women and threatening video shop owners.

"We will try our best to resolve the issue through dialogue and if negotiations fail, action will be taken against them according to the law," he added.

Meanwhile the students of the religious seminary have embarked on a campaign to convince the public opinion campaign in the country. Four letters on behalf of students at Jamia Hafsa address writers and journalists, drivers and passengers, shopkeepers and hotel owners and policemen and officers and officials of the civil administration to remind them about their " religious responsibilities" regarding "voice and virtue." The students urge all these people to fulfill their responsablities and help them in their enforcement of the Sharia in its true sense.

The representatives of civil society and some of the political parties are increasingly becoming vocal against the activities of students of the seminary. The activists of civil society and political parties staged a protest against Jamia Hafsa on Thursday, in Islamabad.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Umer Farooq

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