ISLAMABAD: Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid has blamed two persons for whipping up the furore over his remark that the massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar was a “reaction” to the military operation against militants.

“This campaign against me is a conspiracy hatched by Amin Shaheedi and Faisal Raza Abidi,” he told the Friday congregation, adding that “I warn that they are testing our patience”.

Journalist Raza Bangash, who was among the mediapersons covering the event, told Dawn that the maulana “also remarked that people who had gone astray construed his opinion as a confessional statement”.

Maulana Amin Shaheedi and Raza Abidi, whom Maulana Aziz accused of fanning public sentiments against him, are, respectively, leader of Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM – Unity of Muslims Council) and a former PPP senator.

Many congregation members and Raza said Maulana Aziz criticised the members of civil society who protested his views outside the Lal Masjid the previous day and had planned more protests on Friday evening against him equating the victims of terrorism and those killed for terrorism.

Maulana Aziz poured sarcasm on the civil society people demonstrating and lighting candles for the Peshawar dead and said they should also have felt pain for the 86 madressah students killed in Waziristan and other deaths in military operations.

“My brother, his family and many people dear to me and a large number of students were killed in army operation here (in Lal Masjid in 2007), but I did not raise such hue and cry,” he said.

Maulana Aziz suggested to the military and political leadership to negotiate peace with the Taliban, ostensibly for a more worthy cause.

“They too are Pakistanis,” he said. “I suggest that a united force of Pak army and Taliban should be established to fight the infidels.”

In his sermon, he said there were no differences between the Taliban of Afghanistan and those in Pakistan. They are like brothers.

After the Friday congregation was over, members of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the reincarnation of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan group, demonstrated in support for Maulana Abdul Aziz and against the killing of schoolchildren in Peshawar.

Later Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed, spokesman for Shuhada Foundation of Lal Masjid, thanked the ASWJ for its support.

“Maulana Abdul Aziz is an asset to the whole Islamic world and we will not tolerate any move to harm him,” he said in a statement on behalf of the foundation.

A security official, who monitored his Friday sermon inside the mosque, said the maulana hurled direct threats to the administration.

“He stated that any attempt to harm him or arrest him would lead to an uncontrollable situation in the country,” the official told Dawn.

According to him, the maulana said: “If I am arrested the administration will not be able to control the protest rallies all over Pakistan. And if they kill me then there would be so many suicide attacks that would surpass the reaction that followed death of my brother Ghazi Abdur Rashid.”

On the other hand talking to Dawn, MWM leader Amin Shaheedi laughed off the statement given by khateeb of Lal Masjid, and said that maulana was a mature person and he should know what to speak.

“His statements have hurt every Pakistani and they are expressing their dislike. What this has to do with me,” Amin Shaheedi said.

An infuriated Faisal Raza Abidi said anyone justifying the massacre of schoolchildren should be ashamed of himself.

“We are with the army against these terrorists and inhuman elements. I have the feeling that the maulana is preparing to flee in a burka again,” he said.

Published in Dawn December 20th , 2014

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