Lal Masjid brigade back again

Published November 14, 2015
Policemen stand alert outside Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad on Friday. — Online
Policemen stand alert outside Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad on Friday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The burqa brigade of Jamia Hafsa and slogans calling for ‘Jihad’ are back in the capital.

Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz came out of the mosque along with his wife, a daughter and well-wishers after Friday prayers during which he announced that a ‘campaign for the implementation of Sharia in the country’ will be launched.

This was the second Friday that the cleric led prayers in the mosque after an absence of 10 months.

Maulana Abdul Aziz says that he will launch movement for Sharia

In his Friday sermon, Maulana Aziz said he had been asked by the authorities not to take out any rally.

On the other hand, the capital police and administration had warned the cleric that action would be taken against him if he was found involved in creating unrest in the city. The cleric has already been included in the police watch list under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997.

However, Maulana Aziz asked those present at the mosque to support the ‘drive’ even if he was arrested.

“Our boy and girl students will resist any ill intended move by the government but I want you to pray in the streets if I am arrested,” he said during the Friday sermon. “However, we are peaceful people and will wait for the response of the government till next Friday.”

A heavy contingent of police and Rangers was deployed in the areas surrounding Lal Masjid.

As soon as the prayers ended, Maulana Aziz’s wife Umme Hassaan emerged from a door of the mosque and confronted an officer of the Rangers.

In the presence of media and her well-wishers, Ume Hassaan asked the officer what was he doing there.

“We are the admirers of Maulana sahib and have just attended prayers led by him with all devotion,” the officer told her and soon Maulana Aziz also came out. The same officer addressed the cleric and said: “We are your admirers, especially for your command over the Arabic language. I can also understand Arabic.”

Despite objections by the city administration, the maulana talked to the media outside the mosque and said, “I have stayed away from the mosque for 11 months to let things cool down but the administration is adamant on creating unrest among the people and threatening to arrest me.”

He added: “We only want an end to obscenity in society and abolish the interest-based financial system. It can be done by implementing Quran and Sunnah.”

After the brief talks with the mediapersons, two double-cabin vehicles pulled up, one loaded with women burqa-clad guards who escorted Ume Hassaan and her daughter into their car.

Ignoring the directives of the city administration and police, the cleric and his wife led a rally from the mosque located in Sector G-6 to Jamia Hafsa in G-7.

The participants chanted slogans against the government and in favour of jihad, Maulana Aziz and implementation of Sharia.

On January 2, 2015, Maulana Aziz delivered his Friday sermon at Lal Masjid after warrants for his arrest were issued. During the sermon, he threatened suicide bombings across the country if he was arrested.

However, he stopped coming to the mosque the following week and occasionally delivered speeches during Friday prayers via telephone.

The arrest warrants were issued after he continued to confront the authorities and reiterated that the attack on the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar on December 16, 2014, was justified as it was in reaction to the army’s actions in the tribal areas.

Two days ago, Shuhada Foundation stated that on Nov 13 Maulana Aziz would make an announcement about the launch of a movement for the enforcement of Sharia. A rally would also be taken out from the mosque.

After the announcement, senior officers of the Rangers and the capital police met the cleric and informed him about the consequences of making such an announcement. Sources said Maulana Aziz assured the officers that he would neither make any such announcement nor deliver hate speech.

Besides, he was also reminded that “you are still under oath and have submitted an undertaking to the inspector general of police early this year that you would not be spreading hatred in the city,” they added.

After the Friday prayers, the capital administration sent a written warning to the cleric informing him that “You are in the Fourth Schedule under section 11-EE of ATA since August 3, 2015.”

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2015

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