Lal Masjid ex-cleric Abdul Aziz, other radical preachers practicing hate with impunity: analysts

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ISLAMABAD: Regardless of public humiliation and durations of home arrest, the previous chief of the infamous Lal Masjid within the federal capital is inspiring a brand new era of extremists along with his previous rhetoric – highlighting Islamabad’s ambivalent makes an attempt to convey spiritual hardliners to heel.
Ten years after the army raid on his mosque made worldwide headlines and shocked the nation, Abdul Aziz stays influential, overseeing a community of seminaries as he requires a ‘caliphate’ to be established in Pakistan. Throughout his time on the helm of the Lal Masjid, Aziz shot to prominence for his inflammatory sermons, advocating jihad in opposition to the West and a hardline interpretation of Islam.
He unfold this message amongst 1000’s of his college students, principally poor kids from rural areas who’re educated without cost at madrassas affiliated with the mosque, sparking accusations of brainwashing from critics. By 2007 issues had reached a tipping level. His armed followers had begun taking his message to the streets of the capital, vandalising CD and DVD stalls and kidnapping Chinese language masseuses, with tensions rapidly degenerating into murderous clashes.
When the regime of then-president Pervez Musharraf launched an assault on the mosque on July 10, 2007, the military discovered itself dealing with closely armed militants. The controversial operation was adopted minute-by-minute on dwell tv, with greater than 100 folks killed within the week-long effort to pacify the mosque and arrest its leaders.
The assault on the spiritual web site sparked ferocious blowback from extremists throughout the nation, marking the emergence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – an umbrella organisation for militant teams concentrating on the Pakistani state.
Within the following years violence elevated dramatically, with 1000’s of Pakistanis killed, maimed, or pressured to flee their houses as safety deteriorated. Aziz himself was arrested as he tried to flee the besieged mosque in a burqa, taken straight to a tv studio and paraded within the garment – incomes the nickname “Mullah Burqa”. He confronted two dozen indictments, together with incitement to hatred, homicide and kidnapping. However Aziz was launched on bail in 2009.
“He was acquitted in all these instances, and the federal government has chosen to not file appeals,” mentioned lawyer and civil rights activist Jibran Nasir. “There isn’t any willingness for prosecution in opposition to him.” Regardless of transient stints beneath home arrest, Aziz now seems to be galvanising the following era along with his fiery preaching – apparently with out worry of repercussions. “The curious factor is that the military has gone after the TTP however not Aziz,” mentioned Pervez Hoodbhoy, a number one anti-extremist activist. “There’s sympathy for his trigger that’s better than the worry of being attacked once more.”
Aziz is thought to boast of his relations with well-known militants like Osama Bin Laden and has spoken sympathetically in regards to the Islamic State (IS) group. He has additionally condoned high-profile extremist assaults, just like the bloodbath on the Charlie Hebdo places of work in Paris. “The impunity loved by Abdul Aziz and different radical clerics raises worry of the capital returning to a 2007-like state of affairs,” mentioned political commentator Zahid Hussain. In 2014, a video of scholars from his madrassa voicing their help for IS didn’t earn him any condemnation.
“There ought to be a caliphate on the earth together with in Pakistan,” mentioned Aziz in a televised interview round that point. Aziz “is tolerated… as a result of it will be like touching a hornet’s nest”, explains former Basic Talat Masood. Given the sensitivity of the inhabitants to non secular questions, intervening “would threat attracting sympathies”. Authorities, nonetheless, seem like preserving him on a decent leash for now.
Aziz is not welcome on the Lal Masjid, which theoretically belongs to the state, and he has been positioned on the Pakistan’s anti-terrorist checklist. A rally deliberate by his supporters to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the mosque’s siege was banned by the courts.
In current months, the authorities have blocked roads surrounding the mosque to forestall Aziz from holding rallies and have taken measures to cease him from preaching on Friday, even remotely by telephone.
The Lal Masjid’s new imam Maulana Aamir Sadeeq, an affable 30-year-old, mentioned it was time to “overlook the previous” and “the intense positions” of a decade in the past. “We should put a distance between terrorism and us,” mentioned Sadeeq – who occurs to be Aziz’s nephew.

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