Suicide bomb threat rings out in Pakistan capital

ISLAMABAD – The chief cleric of a radical mosque in Pakistan’s capital trumpeted plans on Friday to set up vigilante Islamic courts and exhorted followers to become suicide bombers if their Taleban-style movement was forcibly suppressed. “Our youths will shake their palaces with their suicide attacks,” Maulana Abdul Aziz warned the government in a fiery sermon delivered to thousands of followers at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in central Islamabad. Followers of the radical clerics in Lal Masjid have become increasingly audacious in recent months, raising fears that for all President Pervez Musharraf’s talk of “enlightened moderation” he cannot stop a trend toward the Talebanisation of Pakistan. “They should not take the law into their own hands; this will create lawlessness in the country. We will not allow them, I will not allow this,” Musharraf told a convention for women’s health being held barely a kilometre away. So far, the authorities have been wary of confronting the anti-Musharraf and anti-American radicals at Lal Masjid for fear of provoking a wider backlash from conservative forces. There were no police around the mosque and militant literature was sold openly, while chants of jihad, or holy war, rang out from loudspeakers. “The government has been saying that an operation against us is the last option, I want to tell the government that suicide attacks are our last option,” Aziz said. “Yes, Yes, Allah-o-Akbar,” the worshippers shouted when Aziz asked them if they were ready to sacrifice their lives. Aziz also set a one-month deadline for the government to close down video and music shops, and bordellos. “If the government fails to do this by the deadline, then our students will take action themselves,” he said amid more shouts of “Allah-o-Akbar”, or “God is Greatest”, from the congregation. Outside the packed mosque, hundreds more worshippers offered prayers on the roads, protected by youths carrying batons and some covering their faces with scarfs, while burqa-clad women stood on the rooftops of an adjacent madrasa. A bonfire of thousands of video and audio cassettes and CDs was set alight by a contrite shopkeeper outside the mosque as onlookers chanted “our way is jihad, jihad”. Aziz said shariat, or Islamic law, courts would be set up and presided over by 10 clerics to stamp out vice in the capital, a sedate, suburban city hardly known for its vice dens. “Allah’s system on Allah’s land” and “We will sacrifice our lives to bring about an Islamic system” read two of the banners strung on trees on the waste ground outside the mosque where Aziz said the vigilante courts would be set up. Pakistan already operates a parallel Islamic legal system alongside its civil penal code. Female students from the adjoining Jamia Hafsa madrasa, or religious school, raided a brothel last month, and took the owner and two of her relatives into custody until they repented. City authorities have for months been at odds with clerics and their followers at the mosque over government attempts to demolish mosques illegally built on public land. Women from the Jamia Hafsa madrasa have occupied a library next door since January and their compound is akin to a fortified camp with young men guarding the gate and walls. Source : khaleedj

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