Rally marks Pakistan mosque raid

Thousands gather in Islamabad on the first anniversary of the raid on Lal Masjid.

    Slogans against Musharraf were raised and
    last year's raid denounced [AFP]

    The raid "was done at the behest of America and [US President George] Bush," Shah Abdul Aziz, a cleric and former member of the parliament, said. "But I want to tell America jihad will continue, it will never stop."

    "Pervez Musharraf [Pakistani president], you thought you could crush the Islamic movement by attacking the Lal Masjid, but we are telling you, you have failed," he said.

    The raid followed a months-long anti-vice campaign by the mosque's leaders who wanted to impose Islamic law.

    Tight security

    During Sunday's protest, police fanned out in thousands across Islamabad and also laid a tight security ring around the gathering in front of the mosque, putting up barbed wire and picket fences to prevent vehicles from entering the area while pedestrians passed through metal detectors.

    Many women and children were killed in
    the raid on the mosque complex  [AFP]
    In front of a crowd of thousands, mostly men, mosque leaders called for the release of Abdul Aziz, their jailed leader, who was caught fleeing in a woman's burqa on the second day of the siege.

    His brother, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, refused to surrender and was killed when security forces stormed the complex.

    "The government must also rebuild Jamia Hafsa," an adjoining girls' Islamic school demolished after the crisis, Qazi Abdul Rashid, a protest organiser said.

    Musharraf, who has become isolated after the defeat of his allies in February elections, said on Friday that more radical mosques would emerge if extremism and militancy were not tackled.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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