E-7 seminary dispute temporarily defused after former Lal Masjid cleric leaves

Updated 10 Jul 2020

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Abdul Aziz, his family and his students have left the E-7 seminary and moved to Jamia Hafsa in G-7. — AFP/File
Abdul Aziz, his family and his students have left the E-7 seminary and moved to Jamia Hafsa in G-7. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz has vacated the E-7 seminary Jamia Fareedia, temporarily defusing the standoff that had emerged there.

Capital administration and police officials told Dawn on condition of anonymity that Mr Aziz, his family and his students have left the E-7 seminary and moved to Jamia Hafsa in G-7.

Mr Aziz reportedly left Jamia Fareedia after he was assured by local ulema and government officials that the matter that brought him there would be resolved.

The police presence around the seminary has also been minimised, the officials said, as the situation has been defused until exams - which are scheduled to begin in seminaries on July 11 - are completed.

The officials said that Mr Aziz and Jamia Fareedia administrator Maulana Abdul Ghaffar have both claimed ownership of the seminary. Mr Ghaffar used to be a close aide to Mr Aziz, but they have since developed differences.

Mr Aziz appointed Mr Ghaffar administrator of Jamia Fareedia in the 2000s, they said, but he lost control of the seminary to Mr Ghaffar.

Mr Aziz, his family and 200 Jamia Hafsa students moved to Jamia Fareedia a few days ago. They told Mr Ghaffar and his companions to vacate the premises, leading to a standoff between both parties when they both refused to leave.

Administration and police officials also became involved, but since the dispute was a private one their focus was on maintaining law and order in the area.

An equipped police contingent was stationed around the seminary. Ulema approached the two clerics at the administration’s request and asked them to settle the matter through talks.

Government officials accompanied the ulema and assured Mr Aziz that the rightful owner of the land and seminary would get possession of them, the officials said, adding that the government does not own the land or the seminary, and was simply trying to avoid a confrontation between both parties.

The ulema were made guarantors and asked for a month to resolve the issue, while Mr Aziz vacated the seminary. The police are still deployed around the seminary as a precaution, but the number of personnel has been decreased, they said. The officials said Mr Aziz’ father had acquired the land and constructed the seminary on it in the late 1970s. Mr Aziz’ nephew Haroon Rasheed confirmed that Mr Aziz has left the premises and moved to his home in Jamia Hafsa. He said capital administration officials and the ulema sought a month to resolve the dispute.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020