Red Mosque: Pakistan’s contradictory crackdown on ‘Red Mosque’ extremism

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ISLAMABAD: Regardless of public humiliation and durations of home arrest, the previous chief of
Pakistan’s infamous Crimson Mosque+
is inspiring a brand new technology of extremists together 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 his 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 Crimson Mosque, Aziz shot to prominence for his inflammatory sermons, advocating jihad towards the West and a hardline interpretation of Islam.

He unfold this message amongst his 1000’s of scholars, largely poor youngsters from rural areas who’re educated without spending a dime 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 going through closely armed jihadists.

The controversial operation was adopted minute-by-minute on dwell tv, with greater than 100 individuals 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 Pakistani Taliban (TTP) – an umbrella organisation for homegrown militant teams focusing on the Pakistani state.

Within the following years Islamist violence elevated dramatically, with 1000’s of Pakistanis killed, maimed, or compelled to flee their properties 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 circumstances, and the federal government has chosen to not file appeals,” mentioned lawyer and civil rights activist Jibran Nasir.

“There isn’t a willingness for prosecution towards him.”

Regardless of temporary stints below home arrest, Aziz now seems to be galvanising the subsequent technology together with his fiery preaching — apparently with out concern 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 is better than the concern of being attacked once more.”

Aziz is understood to boast of his relations with well-known jihadists like Osama Bin Laden and has spoken sympathetically concerning the Islamic State 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 concern of the capital returning to a 2007-like scenario,” mentioned political commentator Zahid Hussain.

In 2014, a video of scholars from his madrassa voicing their assist 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 normal Talat Masood.

Given the sensitivity of the inhabitants to non secular questions, intervening “would danger attracting sympathies”.

Authorities, nonetheless, look like preserving him on a decent leash for now.

Aziz is now not welcome on the Crimson Mosque, which theoretically belongs to the state, and he has been positioned on the Pakistan’s anti-terrorist record.

A rally deliberate by his supporters to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Crimson Mosque 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 Crimson Mosque’s new imam Maulana Aamir Sadeeq, an affable 30-year-old, mentioned it was time to “overlook the previous” and “the acute 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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