Pakistan: Islamic Gp. Criticizes Gov’t Handling of Mosque Crisis
Monday, July 9,2007 00:00
By Ikhwanweb
Islamic Group (Jamaat-e-Islami) in Pakistan criticized the way adopted by the government in dealing with the crisis of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and Pakistani government’s insistence on using army in ending the crisis without seriously seeking any solution through dialogue.
Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, spokesman of the Islamic Group in Pakistan said in a statement to Ikhwanweb :
"What is currently taking place in Islamabad is a real massacre. The government insists on committing this massacre in a crisis that raises eyebrows. Why has this crisis reached such a serious degree?. Why haven’t any of the available opportunities been seized to reach a peaceful solution for the crisis?. Why has the government rejected the surrender offered by the leader of those besieged inside the mosque, Abdul Rashid Ghazi to solve this crisis, even if it was late?. He said he was ready to surrender if there is a safe way out and that he was ready to stand trial in front of a fair court to legally discuss all issues. Why has the government fully rejected his offer?. Why has it insisted on surrendering according to its conditions or face death!! We are currently facing a very serious stage. A massacre may be committed against all those besieged inside the mosque."
Aziz added that the Supreme Constitutional Court has formed on Monday, July, 9th, 2007, a fact-finding committee to be given access to the mosque. This is actually an important development for the current situation. Two days, the government denied acces to the mosque several figures, including MPs belonging to the Islamic Group and delegations from other parliamentary blocs in order to take bodies of the killed outside the mosque and treat injured and know the latest developments. The government blocked even this little intervention and denied women access to the mosque to treat injured persons. We are now waiting for next to come, hoping the Supreme Court can play a decisive role in reaching a solution that may spare blood."
Aziz considered the security methods in dealing with the crisis as a reflection of the authoritarian and dictatorial style of Pervez Musharraf who rejects any moderate solutions to show his strong domination and control over the situation, even if this leads to dozens or hundreds of Pakistani victims.
The Pakistani Islamic Group confirms its rejection to all illegal exercises and the use of violence as a means for change but the freedom of expression must be allowed to all in a way that doesn’t infringe on the constitution or law, said Aziz.
Background of Lal Masjid Crisis
This mosque was built in 1969 when the capital became Islamabad instead of Karachi. This made it an advanced religious center, with the help of the imam and preacher of the mosque, Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah Ghazi who had good relation with president Dia’ Al-Haq. The mosque role was at that time in harmony with Pakistan’s state-sanctioned policies in the 1980s, of inciting to jihad in Afghanistan and supporting the Afghan militants in their war against the Russians.
Lal Masjid’s official role retreated after building the famous Faisal Masjid, named after the late King of Saudi Arabia. The relations between the mosque imam, sheikh Abdullah and successive governments retreated gradually after killing president Dia’ Al-Haq in 1988. it worsened with the state’s increasing efforts for curbing the religious phenomenon of jihad copycatted from the Afghan condition .
It reached a new peak with killing sheikh Abdullah in late 1990s, after which his sons Abd Al-Aziz and Abd Al-Rashid took reins of the mosque. There various theories that explain his assassination. However, the new command of the mosque pointed the finger of accusation directly against the government’s security bodies and that they killed their father in compliance to US orders.
With the tense relation between sheikh Abd Al-Aziz and authorities from the beginning, the political confrontation continued between both parties, entering more worsened levels with the US war against Al-Qaeda network and Afghanistan in which Islamabad backed Washington..
The explosions that hit the capital added to the tense relation. This includes the explosions that targeted Marriott hotel in 2004, and those that took place in April 2007. The relation worsened more after president Pervez Musharraf’s government took several measures against Madrassas (religious schools), including monitoring them and not accepting foreigners to study in them. Authorities deported hundreds of them. Add to this the debate over the curricula and educational methods adopted in them, which were considered by some as a cause of spreading terrorism.
The relation between both parties reached a deadlock when the government demanded demolishing the mosque because it is- according to government claims- was illegally built on a piece of land owned by the Ministry of Education, although the mosque and its imam were receiving funds from late president Dia’ Al-Haq.
For his part, sheikh Abd Al-Aziz had escalated his attacks against president Mosharraf, accusing the government of not complying to the tenets of Sharia. His group kidnapped policemen and kidnapped, later, foreign women claiming that they were prostitutes, and released them later.