Infamous Pakistani cleric keeps 'martyr' Bin Laden library, vows worldwide Sharia

By Hollie McKay, Mohsin Saleem Ullah
Fox News
February 28, 2018

Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz is considered one of the most dangerous, yet influential, men in Pakistan.

And while his movements in the country are restricted by the government, the 57-year-old former head cleric of Islamabad’s oldest mosque – Lal Masjid, better known as the Red Mosque – is still allowed to inspire new generations with his radical rhetoric.

“We don’t see Pakistan anymore our destination, we will come out as a force to establish Islamic rule over the entire world,” Aziz told Fox News last week in a telephone interiew, from his Islamabad compound known as Jamia Hafsa, a seminary school that boasts around 1500 girls and 2000 boys. “You will see the change within 10 years - if you stay alive.”

In the government's endeavor to root out terrorism, Aziz is banned from the mosque – which technically belongs to the state. But he and his wife continue to oversee teachings just a few miles away.

“We want Sharia within our country and I, along with my pupils, will go to any extent to implement Sharia – even at the cost of waging a war against the country coerced government,” he declared.

Aziz has long been known for his inflammatory sermons, anti-American ideology, for sparking global jihadist movements and supporting designated terrorist groups. In 2014, he even named his school’s library the “Martyr Usama Bin Laden Library” in honor of the former Al Qaeda leader and 911 financier.

“Usama had good relations with my late father, thus we don’t support the American narrative, declaring him a terrorist,” Aziz said. “He did jihad, to implement Sharia around the world. So, for us he is an Islamist warrior. We title our library after his name with audacity.”

That chilling discourse may have hit close to the U.S. homeland more than once.

Soon after the 2015 San Bernardino massacre, in which female assailant and ISIS supporter Tashfeen Malik and her American husband, Syed Rizwan Farouk, slaughtered 14 of his co-workers, reports emerged that the Pakistani-born, Saudi Arabia-raised woman had been a Red Mosque student under Aziz.

“I never met with her,” Aziz claimed, before eventually acknowledging that they may have had an encounter as he has “many female followers.” But if so, she would have been fully veiled, he said. “The United States is failing attempts to establish my link with that shooting.”

But his links with violent movements are well documented.

Under Aziz’s guidance at the Red Mosque in July 2007, scores of his baton-brandishing male and female students took to the streets outside. Video stores considered immoral were shuttered. Chinese women were abducted from a massage parlor they deemed to be a “brothel,” threats were made to throw acid in the face of female university students nearby, and a government ministry building was torched.

Tensions escalated between the militant mosque devotees and Pakistani Army into a bloody 10-day standoff that left over 100 people dead, including Aziz’s brother, mother and son. Aziz attempted to evade arrest by fleeing the chaotic scene disguised in a burka.

"I taught my students to stand against the corrupt system immobilizing the country. Pakistan has inherited the British system, solely non-believers,” Aziz said of the incident. “I attempted to escape in a long veil with the consent of my martyred brother Abdul during the operation, and secondly, Islam supports this act to conceal oneself in a state of emergency.”

After several months in custody following the siege, Aziz was released, but deposed as cleric and barred from the Red Mosque, which his nephew, Amir Siddique, now leads instead. But the firebrand cleric promptly set about building a new facility, Jamia Hafsa, close by.

The Pakistani government has – particularly in the wake of the 2014 Peshawar school slaughter – purported to squash terror-inspiring voices like Aziz. And many Pakistanis have expressed their staunch opposition to the extremist preacher.

Those actions against him come at a cost.

“Last time there was action against Mullah Aziz and his supporters at the Red Mosque, terrorism erupted in the northern parts of the country and eventually spread to other parts. So there remains a blowback in case of any severe action taken against him,” explained Farrukh Khan Pitafi, an Islamabad-based columnist and television journalist. “The past few years there has been a cultural shift in the country and Aziz has struggled to find space on the national media. But it remains a work in progress. It is safe to assume that he is down but not out.”

Jeff Smith, South Asia policy expert at the Heritage Foundation,  pointed out further actions likely have not been taken against Aziz over concerns of retaliation.


“Aziz is highly critical of the Pakistani government but Islamabad knows he commands a sizable following and claim they have no legal grounds to arrest or convict him. Ultimately, they’ve decided it’s best to avoid stirring the hornet’s nest, even if means quietly allowing the swarm to proliferate,” he said.

“Ideally, Pakistan would pass legislation or criminal justice reforms outlawing the type of hate speech espoused by Aziz and his ilk, and then deal with them through the appropriate legal mechanisms.”

The Red Mosque did not respond for further comment regarding their current relationship with Aziz. But he asserted his ban comes as a result of “American and Indian influence” on Pakistan’s leadership.

“As a prayer leader in the Red Mosque, people are in support of me,” he insisted. “In the past, I have tried to enter but our frightened government called upon the Rangers to prevent me.”

Nonetheless, Aziz’s influence remains a cause for concern on an international scale. He denied being acquainted with any specific militant groups in war-ravaged Iraq and Syria, but said he “teaches a lot about jihad” to his many students who likely have gone “to join the noble in those countries.”

But in his view, Afghanistan is the most noble of all.

“At present, there is no Muslim country left in the world which has a Sharia ruler – neither Saudi Arabia nor Pakistan,” Aziz said. “I have found Afghanistan the only country in accordance with Sharia when the Taliban established its control over the land and I support those Taliban’s to-date.”

And according to Smith, Aziz still has significant influence.

“It is helpful to separate the ‘bad guys’ into two categories. There are those like the Haqqani Network that are actively and operationally involved in conducting terrorist targeting Afghanistan and U.S. personnel and interests there; and then there are those espousing violent extremist ideologies, sowing the seeds of hatred and religious fundamentalism across Pakistani society,” Smith added.

“Aziz very much falls into the latter camp and within the spectrum of radical Pakistani preachers remains a very prominent figure. While the first group poses the most immediate threat to the U.S. and Afghanistan, it’s arguably the latter group that’s doing the most long-term damage in the all-important war of ideas.”

'We Believed Our Cleric': Pakistani Polio Victim's Regretful Father Urges Others To Use Vaccine

December 12, 2017

Radio Free Europe

ISLAMABAD -- Five-year-old Mohammad Ashar Aziz will never be able to walk without orthopedic leg braces.

The youngest of three brothers from a village near Islamabad, he is one of just 17 children in the world -- all of them in Pakistan or Afghanistan -- who developed paralysis during 2017 from a wild polio-virus infection.

His father, 41-year-old day laborer Hamid Aziz, is disconsolate because he repeatedly had the chance to immunize Mohammad Ashar for free during the past five years.

Instead, Hamid Aziz says he listened to the advice of a cleric in his village, who announced over loudspeakers of the madrasah, a local Islamic religious school, that the vaccine was “not good” for children’s health, and prevented it from being administered to any of his sons.

Whenever teams of government and international aid workers came to his village as part of a massive polio-eradication campaign, Aziz and his illiterate wife, Huma, hid Mohammad Ashar and his siblings and told the vaccination teams there were no children in their home.

“Why didn’t I give the vaccine to my son?” says Aziz, who quit school at the age of 14 and knew nothing about the polio vaccine.

“We believed what our cleric told us, but now I realize that we’ve not done the right thing for our son,” Aziz tells RFE/RL. “We realize how important it was and that we should have let him get the vaccine.”

Perceptions And Misinformation

Public health studies in Pakistan have shown that maternal illiteracy and low parental knowledge about vaccines -- together with poverty and rural residency -- are factors that most commonly influence whether children are vaccinated against the polio virus.

Nooran Afridi, a pediatrician at a private clinic in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal region, says one of the biggest obstacles to eradicating polio in Pakistan has been “refusals” stemming from “antipolio propaganda” spread by conservative Islamic clerics in “backward areas.”

One common fallacy in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan with low literacy rates is that the vaccine sterilizes young boys.

Antipolio propaganda also has been fueled by distrust in Western governments who fund vaccine programs -- particularly after the CIA staged a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in 2011 to confirm the location of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Since then, some clerics have even issued fatwas saying that children who become paralyzed or die from polio are “martyrs” because they refused to be tricked by a Western conspiracy.

Taliban militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan also have propagandized that Western-made vaccines contain pig fat or alcohol, which are both forbidden in Islam.

Pakistan’s Tehrik-i Taliban has used that false claim to justify its killing of more than 80 polio vaccination team workers in Pakistan since a massive polio-eradication effort was launched in 2012.

Massive Eradication Effort

Pakistani health workers, together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international aid organizations, have immunized millions of children across the country since 2012 with more than 100 rounds of the vaccination drive.

More than 38 million children under the age of 5, the most susceptible age group for contracting the contagious disease, were vaccinated in Pakistan during 2017 alone.

The effort has brought Pakistan’s paralytic polio rate to its lowest level since the early 1990s.

Six of the world’s 17 paralytic cases in 2017 were reported in Pakistan, compared to 20 in 2016 and a peak of 198 cases in 2011.

In Afghanistan, there were 11 paralytic polio cases in 2017, down slightly from 13 the year before.

The WHO, which treats Afghanistan and Pakistan as a single epidemiological block, has warned that the risk of the spread of polio remains high along the countries' 1,500-kilometer shared border -- particularly among nomadic tribes that travel within both countries and across the frontier.

But the WHO also has been encouraged by Pakistan’s eradication efforts in its tribal regions along the border, where no new paralytic cases were reported during 2017.

Completely eradicating polio from Pakistan “will depend on reaching all children who have not been vaccinated,” it said in a late November report.

Both countries demonstrated “strong progress, with independent technical advisory groups underscoring the feasibility of rapidly interrupting transmission of the remaining polio virus strains,” according to the WHO, which also praised closely coordinated Afghan-Pakistani initiatives to identify children missed by vaccination programs and to understand why they were missed.

Almost Gone

Pakistan had hoped to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by the end of 2017 by achieving its goal of no new paralytic cases for a year -- a result achieved by Nigeria in October.

Rana Safdar, coordinator for Pakistan’s national Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, announced in April that Pakistan was “about to defeat polio” because of a continued political commitment from Islamabad and support from international and Pakistani partners in the eradication programs.

The next round of mass vaccinations in Pakistan is scheduled for the end of December.

Mezhar Nisar, a member of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s polio eradication task force, says he is confident the disease “is on the way to being rooted out from Pakistan.”

“We have addressed all the refusal issues in our overall social-mobilization strategy,” Nisar told RFE/RL. “We have involved religious scholars from the Ulema councils and community-based women health workers. This has brought the number of vaccination refusals to the minimal level. The program is fully on track.”

The Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on December 8 praised the prime minister’s “hands-on approach” with Pakistani provincial leaders.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication has issued a new training manual for madrasah students that supports polio eradication efforts with practical guidance about engaging with local communities in support of vaccination.

Endpolio Pakistan, which brings nongovernmental and government experts in Pakistan together with international health organizations, says declarations by Muslim scholars in Ulema councils were critical to eliminating new paralytic polio cases during 2017 from Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border.

In the town of Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party chief Maulana Samiul Haq declared a fatwa in late 2013 at the Darul Uloom Haqqania religious seminary, stating that “there is nothing forbidden” in the polio vaccine.

Haq, who had close ties with the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, said it is “the responsibility” of the religious scholars in the Ulema councils "to remove misconceptions about the use of vaccines to protect children from the crippling disease.”

He also publicly declared that Islamic Shari'a law “has made it clear that there is no harm in it. Rather, the treatment is an obligation.”

Other clerics have issued appeals for ordinary citizens, religious scholars, and tribal elders to fully support the polio vaccination initiative across Pakistan so that every child is vaccinated -- insisting that the vaccine's ingredients are, beyond any doubt, permissible under traditional Islamic law.

Hamid Aziz says he wishes he would have had that kind of Islamic instruction when his son was born in 2012.

Instead, Aziz is now struggling on his intermittent wages of about $7 per day to come up with the funds needed to buy the leg braces that his youngest son will need to use for the rest of his life in order to walk.

“Now I am asking other parents to allow the medical workers to administer the polio vaccine to their children,” Aziz told RFE/RL. “It is good for your children.”

Top Shia cleric, 39 others arrested over involvement in Karachi sectarian killings

The Express Tribune

November 6, 2016

Law enforcement agencies on Sunday rounded up at least 40 suspects, including a prominent religious scholar, in Karachi following a spate of targeted killings.

Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain, a prominent Shia scholar and Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) leader, was arrested late on Saturday night during a raid at his house in the city’s Nazimabad area, sources told The Express Tribune.

Hussain, who is a prayer leader at Noor-e-Emaan Masjid, was taken into custody just a day after a former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator was arrested by law enforcers over his alleged involvement in sectarian killings in the metropolis that took place recently and in the past as well.

Faisal Raza Abidi had been apprehended from his residence in New Rizvia Society, which falls in District East, late Friday night. Heavy weapons, including a G-3 rifle and sub-machine guns (SMGs), were also recovered during the half-an-hour long search before he was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.

Faisal Raza Abidi arrested for involvement in sectarian killings

On Friday, six people, including two prayer leaders belonging to the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F), were shot dead in three separate attacks within the span of one hour. Two JUI-F workers were killed in Patel Para while three ASWJ workers, including a prayer leader at Shafiq Morr and a prayer leader in Hyderi, were gunned down apparently by the same group.

MWM condemns sectarian killings

MWM leader Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffery slammed the recent targetted killings of Shia mourners in New Rizvia Society area on Saturday.

Two Shia mourners were targeted by armed attackers in Rizvia Society when they were returning from a religious gathering, Jaffery said. The MWM leader, however, lamented that Shias were continuously being targeted in the city and yet law enforcers were taking their leaders into custody. Jaffery urged the government to take notice of the recent targeted killings in Karachi.

Abidi sent on judicial remand

Meanwhile, a local magistrate in Malir sent the former PPP senator to jail on Sunday on a judicial remand until November 19 for possession of illegal weapons.

According to Karachi DIG East, Abidi was rounded up over his alleged involvement in a double-murder case.

Hafiz Saeed’s Friday sermon in Lahore

Hafiz Saeed on Friday launched a terror rally in Lahore in which he called for 'Jihad' against India.

By: FE Online

New Delhi
September 30, 2016

Hafiz Saeed on Friday launched a terror rally in Lahore in which he called for ‘Jihad’ against India, according to a Times Now report. From requesting Pakistan to stay united in the matter of national defense to talking about avenging the 1971 war, he tweeted all on his Twitter handle (which is not verified but is being quoted by all the TV channels). He wrote, “Freedom of Kashmir will be the beginning of India’s destruction. A lot has to be avenged including #1971.” He requested politicians, religious groups to stand united. “I would request politicians, religious groups to stand united in the crucial matter of national defense.” “We have offered funeral prayers in absentia of our brave soldiers who were martyred yesterday by Indian provocation at #LOC. This comes a day after India annouced that it conducted surgical strikes across Line of Control (LoC) causing significant casualties to the terrorists. Nine Pakistani soldiers and 35-40 terrorists, who were planning to infiltrate into India to carry out attacks, were killed in the operation by the Indian Army.

Earlier, Pakistan has asked the chiefs of terrorist organisations operating from its territory to lie low for the time being. It seems that Pakistan is fearing that the Indian army may now attempt to eliminate the terror chiefs. Sources told India Today that there is a strategy behind Pakistan’s plan of not publicly acknowledging the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army. The strategy is in consonance with the fact that Pakistan has never accepted the presence of terrorists on its land. That the country has never “owned up to Pakistani jehadi factory or a terrorist.” hence, it can’t be expected that Pakistan would accept that terrorists were killed in surgical strikes by India. As that would be “a sign of admission that there are terror camps”, in Pakistan, India Today reported.

Meanwhile, Uri terror attack martyr Hawaldar Ashok Kumar Singh’s widow Sangita Devi urged PM Narendra Modi to kill Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in the same way as the US forces shot 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Sangita Devi, whose son and nephew are also in the Army, said the Narendra Modi government should not hesitate to bomb all the terrorists and their patrons in Pakistan so that no Indian soldier’s wife is widowed like her.

In a public address in Faisalabad, the JuD chief and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack warned India of a “befitting response” for its military operation in PoK, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now know what is meant by “surgical strikes”. “We will tell you what is a real surgical strike…and you will get the deserved response soon,” Saeed said.

“I want to tell Indian media to see soon how Pakistani Jawans conduct surgical strikes. Let me tell you…the US will not be able to help you,” he said. “Now it is Pakistan’s turn to give a befitting response to India. Narendra Modi will now know what is meant by surgical strikes,” Saeed said.

Islamic clerics back blasphemy laws: those who insult Mohammed have no right to live

by Kamran Chaudhry

Ten ulema and a former judge criticised a bill that would water down the existing blasphemy law. They also support the release of Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who defended Asia Bibi.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Islamic religious leaders have attacked the government's plan to neutralise the much criticised blasphemy laws, and expressed strong support for the release of Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

An emotionally charged ‘Seminar for protection of Prophet’s dignity’ was held last Saturday at Lahore Press Club. Ten ulemas expressed their reservation against a draft bill that aims to add the word “intention” to the law.

Human rights groups as well as Church leaders have repeatedly stated that 295C is used in extrajudicial killings and the burning of Christian settlements.

If approved by the Law Ministry, the new legislation would be reviewed by a committee before going to parliament. According to seminar speakers, 14 people accused of blasphemy have been hanged so far, whilst 19 more are serving life imprisonment.

The speakers included retired Justice Mian Nazir Akhtar, counsel to Mumtaz Qadri, who is jailed for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer because he referred to the country's blasphemy law as “black law” in a television show.

Taseer, a Muslim, had gained popularity among Pakistan’s Christian minority for trying to help Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammad.

The judge who sentenced Mumtaz Qadri to death left for Saudi Arabia along with his family after receiving death threats from extremists.

“This single act [Taseer’s murder] made Qadri immortal,” said Mian Nazir Akhtar to the ovation of those present. “Taseer’s authority could not save him. He had lowered himself and violated his oath for a woman who was proven guilty by the court and then punished. He carried a western agenda (for abolishing the blasphemy law) for more than three years and was finally sent to hell.”

“The new bill rejects all sayings by the Holy Prophet. When it comes to the sanctity of the Prophet, the implementation of all manmade laws become different.  Those who insult Him have no rights, including no right to live. There is no need for trial or hearings,” added the former judge.

Other speakers also warned government leaders against tampering with the blasphemy law. Quoting Islamic references in favour of the death sentence, they threatened sit-ins, protest rallies and fatwas against supporters of the proposed bill.

“Youths will be sacrificed, ghazi (reference to Qadri) will be saved” and “Allah o Akbar,” chanted the bearded attendants.

Saeeda Deep, of the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies, has campaigned for changes to blasphemy law a few years ago.

“We tried to prove blasphemy by producing four Muslim witnesses, but our voices are being suppressed. Even Saudi Arabia, our religious hub, does not follow such strict version of this law”, she told AsiaNews.

“If the clerics believe in killing in the name of God, they must accept death sentence of governor’s guard for the same cause”.

Cell Phone Use Punished by Acid in the Face


Pakistani Women Writers Denounce Islamic Clerics' Fatwas Against Women's Use Of Cell Phones And Access To Secular Education 

Former Pakistani lawmaker and cleric Maulana Abdul Haleem recently issued a fatwa (Islamic degree) against secular education and justifying honor killings of women.[1]The fatwa was issued in a sermon during a weekly Friday prayer in Kohistan district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Haleem also threatened that women from secular NGOs who visit Kohistan district may be married off forcibly to local men. In a similar incident, a cleric announced a fatwa in a mosque in Noshki town of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, justifying acid attacks on women who use cell phones.

Both fatwas elicited no condemnation from the main Pakistani media. However, two Pakistani women – an author and a blogger –slammed the clerics' fatwas, arguing that there is an urgent need to stop such fatwas against women. In an article titled "Fatwas Against Women: From The One Who Wears Bangles," Fouzia Saeed – an author and a social scientist – stated: "I think it is time for our society to forcefully stop such people who not only violate the dignity and safety of women citizens, but also give a bad name to Islam…"

In another article "Our Stunted Society," blogger and communications consultant Tazeen Javed argued that such fatwas are breeding narrow-mindedness. She wrote: "A country like ours can ill-afford adventurism of any kind, but most dangerous is the practice of resorting to a fatwa to get a point across. Not only does this breed a narrow and rigid view of issues, it also leaves no room for dialogue, debate, and consultation, making us an increasingly 'stunted' and intolerant society."

Fouzia Saeed: "A Fatwa Was Announced In A Mosque On May 11, Stating That Any Woman Using A Cell Phone Will Have Acid Thrown In Her Face"

Following are excerpts from Fouzia Saeed's article:[2]

"Fatwas against women are becoming common again. In Noshki, Baluchistan, a fatwa was announced in a mosque on May 11, stating that any woman using a cell phone will have acid thrown in her face. Another fatwa was issued in Kohistan about two weeks ago, warning 'NGO women' that they would be forcefully married to their local men if they dared to enter the area. There was a time when such fatwas were more common, resulting in serious punishments inflicted on women who dared to venture beyond the four walls of their homes.

"However, over the last four years there has been a steady improvement in creating space for women to be more visible in public. After decades of repression, women have turned the cycle in a different direction by building a high level of solidarity among women from many backgrounds. The awareness that one woman's advancement is linked to breaking the shackles of others has gained ground. Not just women; many men are fully in support of this process of change.

"Who will tell the 'fatwa guys' that they are nearly an extinct species? Who will tell these men that they need to wake up to 2012. Who will tell them that our interest in them is limited to a single news item? Perhaps they should be kept in a museum with the caption 'we used to have people like this who thought work for women was 'un-Islamic' but marrying them by force was 'Islamic.'  Idiots who thought talking on a cell phone was 'un-Islamic' but throwing acid in women's faces was 'Islamic'!'

"I think it is time for our society to forcefully stop such people who not only violate the dignity and safety of women citizens, but also give a bad name to Islam, a religion which places a priority on the dignity of women."

"I Am More Worried About Those Who Put On A Progressive Facade And Continue To Reinforce Myths That Imply Women Are Inferior"

"I am not so worried about these fatwas because I am confident that our society will not let itself regress. I am more worried about those who put on a progressive facade and continue to reinforce myths that imply women are inferior. Our society takes these 'put-downs' for granted and uses them in a patronizing manner.

"Putting down a man by calling him a 'woman,' and thus a coward, has gone on for generations. These 'humiliations,' while being common among the ignorant, do concern me more when they are commonly used by our leaders.

"About two weeks ago, a senior minister raised his hands and announced that he was not wearing bangles, implying that he was not a coward but was 'brave' like a 'man' and would handle the violence in Karachi with a 'man's courage.' Ironically, men with their 'bravery' and 'courage' have already given that city enough trouble…

"I am a woman who wears bangles yet feels quite brave.  I am also a daughter of a brave woman, a woman who wears bangles and has felt very brave all her life. I salute my mother today on Mothers' Day and all the mothers who wear bangles while standing bravely…"

Tazeen Javed: "Fatwas Are So Commonplace That Even A Power Utility Company Resorted To Seeking One A Few Years Back To Get People To Pay For Their Electricity"

Following are excerpts from Tazeen Javed's article:[3]

"[We] are teeming millions of people who cannot feed themselves, have limited access to energy, and will be dumber and weaker in the future because of the stunted mental and physical growth of our children due to the lack of education. At such a juncture in history, amongst us are individuals who issue fatwas and promote misogyny and obscurantism against hygiene, education, health, and progress.

"The latest fatwa is one issued by a former legislator. Maulana Abdul Haleem of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman group) came up with a series of misogynist fatwas clearly detailing what the priorities of his political and religious followers should be. For starters, the fatwa declares formal education for women to be un-Islamic. As if declaring the act of going to school and getting an irreligious education was not enough, he also reprimanded the parents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Kohistan district who send their daughters to school and asked them to terminate their education. He also strictly told them that failure to do so would earn them a spot in eternal hellfire.

"The fatwa goes on to declare all NGOs working in the region as 'hubs of immodesty.' He first blamed the women working in those NGOs for mobilizing the local women on health and hygiene issues and then called on the local men to marry the unmarried NGO workers – forcefully, if they have to – to make them stay at home.

"In short, a former legislator issues fatwas during a Friday sermon inciting hatred against a group of people (NGO workers) and declaring the constitutional rights of getting an education for half of the population forbidden and no one, barring a few bloggers and tweeters, raises even an eyebrow…

"Had it been just one fatwa from one cleric in one remote corner, perhaps, we could have ignored it. However, unfortunately, we churn out one edict after another without realizing what the rest of the world may think of us. If declaring hair implant services and vegetarian items, such as potato chips, halal is considered a viable marketing gimmick, then the abduction of minor girls from minority communities also gets legitimized through decrees by half-literate mullahs [clerics].

"Fatwas are so commonplace that even a power utility company resorted to seeking one a few years back to get people to pay for their electricity. Since that utility is still burdened with thousands of unpaid bills, we know how useless that fatwa turned out to be.

"A country like ours can ill-afford adventurism of any kind but most dangerous is the practice of resorting to a fatwa to get a point across. Not only does this breed a narrow and rigid view of issues, it also leaves no room for dialogue, debate and consultation, making us an increasingly 'stunted' and intolerant society."


Acid attack on boy who 'refused sex with Muslim cleric'

By Massoud Ansari in Karachi
(Filed: 08/02/2004)

On his hospital bed last week, 16-year-old Abid Tanoli sat listless and alone, half of his body covered by burns that all but destroyed both his eyes and left his face horribly disfigured.

The teenager talked, with difficulty, of how his life had been destroyed since the fateful day in June 2002 when he refused to have sex with his teacher at a religious school in Pakistan.

The boy was horrifically injured in an acid attack after he rebuffed the Muslim cleric's sexual advances. Now, he has alarmed Pakistan's powerful religious establishment by pressing charges against his alleged assailants.

A teacher at the school, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and two of his friends are in prison awaiting trial for attempted murder and rape. All three deny the charges. A fourth alleged attacker is still at large.

It is the first such case to be brought against a Muslim cleric and threatens to expose a scandal of sex abuse within Pakistan's secretive Islamic schools.

Abid was blinded and maimed in the assault, which he says came shortly after he rejected sexual demands from the Islamic teacher at a madrassa in a crowded, lower middle-class district of Karachi. "He threatened to ruin me for life," Abid recalled, "but I didn't take him seriously. I just stopped going to the madrassa".

Abid, who was 14 at the time, told neither parents nor friends what had happened because, he said, he was ashamed. A few days later, as he played with his brothers and sister at home, he said that his religious teacher - accompanied by three associates - broke into the house, bolted the door and threw acid over him, screaming: "This should be a lesson for your life."

Abid was taken to a public hospital, where doctors told him that he would be scarred for life.

Lawyers and campaigners against sexual abuse of children say that it is not uncommon in Pakistan, especially in the segregated surroundings of the country's estimated 20,000 religious schools, but cases involving members of the clergy are rarely - if ever - exposed.

"They are either hushed up and sorted out within the confines of school, or parents are pressurized not to report the incident to the media as it would give religion a bad name," said Zia Ahmed Awan, the president of Madadgaar, a joint project of LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid) and Unicef, the United Nations children's fund.

Haroon Tanoli, Abid's father, met strong resistance when he tried to take up his son's case with officials at the school. He says that they offered to help him secure a cash payment from the alleged attackers, provided that he did not involve the police. Since then, he has been threatened with harsh consequences for refusing to back down.

"I despise hypocrites who sport huge beards in the name of religion and hinder the passage of justice in the name of Islam," said Mr. Tanoli.

"I had a beard, and all my four sons were studying in a madrassa. However, following this incident, the first thing I did was to pull my children out of the madrassa - and shave off my beard."

Even as Abid was receiving treatment, the religious authorities pressed the hospital to discharge him. Mr. Tanoli managed to get him admitted to a different hospital, where he is being treated free, although the family cannot afford an operation to save his sight.

Mr. Tanoli refuses to back down, despite being offered one million rupees (£12,000) by the teacher's relations if he withdraws the charges. He has moved to a secret location for his own safety.

Pakistan cleric for OIC support for Iran

Islamic Republic News Agency

Monday October 03, 2005

A noted cleric and vice-president of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal in Pakistan called for the Organization of the Islamic Conference's support for Iran on its nuclear program.

In an interview with IRNA here on Saturday, Allama Sajid Ali Naqvi contended that it was high time for the OIC to extend its support to the Islamic Republic of Iran on the nuclear issue.

Naqvi proposed that a special summit of OIC member countries be summoned to discuss the issue.

OIC must devise a strategy to protect Muslim nations from such coercive tactics, he argued.

The MMA leader was of the view that public opinion in Muslim nations had always been for safeguarding Islamic interests but that a majority of Muslim rulers blindly toed the US and its allies policy.

He pointed out that Iran had repeatedly said that its program was peaceful and had nothing to do with nuclear arms and that the United States and European countries were unjustifiably exerting pressure on a sovereign Islamic nation to give in.

Referring to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he said Iran had every right to exploit nuclear energy to meet its requirements.

He said he was opposed to the Security Council taking up the issue, saying it would be an uncalled for and unjustified initiative.

Naqvi criticized the role of the United States and Europe on the issue and insisted that leading nations were needed to review their policies towards Iran and other Islamic countries.

"The world must change its policy and the issues should be settled through peaceful means as use of force is no solution to problems in the present era," he maintained.

The government of Pakistan abstained from voting in the IAEA resolution last week on the matter of referring the Iran issue to the Security Council and also opposed any military solution to it.

All political and religious parties in the country have also thrown their voice behind Iran on its peaceful nuclear program.


Death threats against Christian leaders in Sangla Hill

An extremist Islamic group offers a “deal” over the phone. “Making a deal with them might mean peace, but the culprits would then still be free” and “won’t be punished for what they did.”

by Qaiser Felix 29 December, 2005 PAKISTAN

Sangla Hill (AsiaNews) – “If you don’t accept our deal in two days, then get ready to die,” said a man who identified himself as a member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Islamic group, in an attempt to intimidate Christian community leaders in Sangla Hill.

On November 12, Christian properties were attacked by about 2,000 Muslims who had been instigated by Islamic religious leaders after blasphemy allegations were made against a Christian. The mob seriously damaged three churches, the homes of two Protestant clergymen, a nunnery, a girls’ hostel and two schools.

Saqib Sohail Batti, general councillor in Sangla Hill, told AsiaNews that he; Fr Samson Dilawar, the local catholic parish priest; and Rev Tajmal Perves received an identical phone call.

“All three of us got a phone call on December 27 from the same man using the same phone number,” he said. “We informed the police who traced the call to a Faislabad public call office”.

“Making a deal with them might mean peace, but the culprits would then still be free. If we give in, they won’t be punished for what they did,” he added.

“We are really scared and are held up in our homes,” he explained.

“Although the police was warned [about possible violence] even before November 12, they did nothing to prevent the extremists’ attack,” he said.


Pakistan cleric supports Iranian president's views about Israel

Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Dec 19, IRNA
A noted cleric and President of Millat-e-Jafria Pakistan Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi on Monday fully supported Iranian president's views about Israel.

"The West has established Israel to occupy Muslim land and keep the Islamic countries under pressure," the cleric said during an interview with "IRNA" here.

The Shia leader pointed out that the reason for the West always sided with Tel Aviv aimed at serving their vested interest and seize control of Muslim countries.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week described Holocaust 'a myth' and suggested Israel to be moved to Germany, US or Canada.

The cleric maintained that the views of Iranian president, among other things, made it clear that on the basis of might, Tel Aviv had been established on the Muslim piece of land.

Naqvi, who is also the vice-president of the six-party alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), said that Israel was an illegitimate state, created under a well-thought out conspiracy against the Islamic world.

MMA is an alliance of mainstream religio-political parties that have a sizable presence in both Houses of the Parliament.

Criticising the Muslim countries' rulers who wanted to establish relations with Tel Aviv, Naqvi advised them to take Israelis to their respective countries so that Al-Quds and Palestine could be liberated.

To a question about the United States threat of attack on Iran, he said that if America under the pretext of nuclear programme attacked Tehran, the political and religious parties in Pakistan would strongly agitate against it and support the Islamic Republic.

He demanded of the United Nations, the European Union, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to throw their weight behind Iran about its peaceful nuclear programme.

Israel is being promoted as a nuclear state while other countries, particularly Islamic nations are pressured not to opt for even peaceful nuclear technology, he said.

"Under the same illogical and unjust policy, Iran is being pressured to abandon its programme. Such approach, if continued, will greatly disturb the balance of power," he cautioned.


Pakistani Muslim cleric offers 1 million bounty for cartoonist

Posted Feb 17, 2006

While protests still rage over the Danish cartoonist, a Pakistani Muslim cleric is offering a 1 million bounty.


The cleric offered the bounty during Friday prayers as Muslim anger against the cartoons flared anew in parts of Asia.

Weeks of global protests over the cartoons have triggered fears of a clash of civilisations between the West and Islam, and have led to calls on all sides for calm.

On Friday, thousands rallied in Pakistan, police in Bangladesh blocked demonstrators heading for the Danish embassy in Dhaka and in the 

Indian city of Hyderabad, police fired teargas shells and batons to beat back hundreds of protesters, who had stoned shops and disrupted traffic.

Protests in Pakistan this week have resulted in at least five deaths and hundreds of detentions, and on Friday it became the latest country where Denmark has decided to temporarily close its embassy.

The Danish foreign ministry also issued a travel warning for Pakistan, urging any Danes to leave as soon as possible.

The cleric leads the congregation at the historic Mohabat mosque, on a street known for goldsmith shops in the provincial capital of North West Frontier Province – a stronghold of Pakistan's Islamist opposition parties.

The cartoons were first published in Denmark last September, but last month newspapers and magazines in Europe and elsewhere began republishing to assert principles of freedom of expression.

Pak cleric offers reward on cartoonist

Amir Mir & Agencies

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lahore/Peshawar: A Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers have offered rewards for anyone who kills Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Maulana Yousef Qureshi said he had personally offered to pay a bounty of Rs5,00,000 (US$8,400) during Friday prayers, and two of his congregation put up additional rewards of $1 million and Rs1 million plus a car.

“If the West can place a bounty on Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, we can also announce a reward for killing the man who has caused this sacrilege,” Qureshi said.
A Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, first printed the cartoons by 12 cartoonists in September. The newspaper has since apologised to Muslims.

Denmark closed its embassy in Islamabad on Friday and Pakistan decided to recall its ambassador from Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani government put Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT), under house arrest on Friday.

Saeed was served the order at his Johar Town residence in Lahore ahead of protests planned by his organisation, the Jamaatul Daawa, and the LeT, its former military wing.
Police said Saeed was detained to avoid any untoward incident in the city during the Friday protests.

In India, violence erupted in parts of Hyderabad on Friday during protests by Muslims. Two persons were injured in stone-throwing as protesters ransacked 10 shops and damaged or set on fire dozens of vehicles at Charminar, Murgi Chowk, Chhatrinaka, Darussalam, Mehdipatnam and Vijaynagar.

Police said the situation was tense but under control. They have arrested 10 people, including a corporator of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.


Cleric puts $1m bounty on Danish cartoonists

ISLAMABAD - A Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers have offered rewards amounting to over US$1 million for anyone who killed Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that have enraged Muslims worldwide.

The cleric offered the bounty during Friday prayers as Muslim anger against the cartoons flared anew in parts of Asia. Weeks of global protests over the cartoons have gained momentum and fears of a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam have led to calls on all sides for calm.

About 10 people were killed in violent clashes between Libyan police and demonstrators today at a protest over the cartoons, Italian Ambassador to Tripoli Francesco Trupiano told Reuters.

"The number of dead is not official, or definitive, because until the clashes are over, it's hard to say. But there are certainly about 10 victims," Trupiano said, clarifying that by victims he meant dead.

Trupiano said he had met Libya's interior minister about a half hour earlier to discuss the clashes outside Italy's consulate in the northeastern city of Benghazi.

On Friday, thousands rallied in Pakistan, police in Bangladesh blocked demonstrators heading for the Danish embassy in Dhaka and in the Indian city of Hyderabad, police fired teargas shells and batons to beat back hundreds of protesters, who had stoned shops and disrupted traffic.

Protests in Pakistan this week have resulted in at least five deaths and hundreds of detentions, and on Friday it became the latest country where Denmark has decided to temporarily close its embassy.

The Danish foreign ministry also issued a travel warning for Pakistan, urging any Danes to leave as soon as possible.

In the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, cleric Maulana Yousef Qureshi said he had personally offered to pay a bounty of 500,000 rupees  to anyone who killed a Danish cartoonist, and two of his congregation put up additional rewards of $1 million and one million rupees plus a car.

"If the West can place a bounty on Osama bin Laden and Zawahri we can also announce reward for killing the man who has caused this sacrilege of the holy Prophet," Qureshi told Reuters, referring to the al Qaeda leader and his deputy Ayman al Zawahri.

The cleric leads the congregation at the historic Mohabat mosque, on street known for goldsmith shops in the provincial capital of North West Frontier Province -- a stronghold of Pakistan's Islamist opposition parties.

The cartoons were first published in Denmark last September, but last month newspapers and magazines in Europe and elsewhere began republishing to assert principles of freedom of expression.

Muslims believe images of the Prophet are forbidden.


Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said it was recalling its own ambassador from Copenhagen for consultations. It did not elaborate further.

The Danish ambassador in Islamabad said, however, that relations had not been broken off because of the furor.

"I'm still in Pakistan and in a secure place," Ambassador Bent Wigotski told Reuters.

"There is no question of broken relations or anything like that," he said, adding that the German embassy was looking after Denmark's consular affairs.

Denmark has already shut its missions in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Indonesia as a result of violence or threats of violence.

Protests in Pakistan have been large and violent and many have taken on a distinctly anti-US tone. Demonstrators, in addition to burning Danish flags, have attacked US fast-food outlets and burned US President George W. Bush in effigy.

Islamist parties have called for a nationwide strike on March 3, around the time President George W. Bush is expected to visit Pakistan, despite the unrest.

Western leaders have been calling for calm.

Former US President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac both said on Friday that it was a mistake to publish the cartoons.

Clinton, on a private visit to Pakistan, said he saw nothing wrong with Muslims around the world demonstrating in a peaceful way, but he feared a great opportunity to improve understanding had been squandered.

"This is not a time to burn bridges; this is a time to build them," he said, adding, "...I can tell you that most people are horrified that this much misunderstanding has occurred."

Chirac was more blunt.

"I am appalled by what happened as a result of the publications of these cartoons," Chirac told India Today news magazine which published an interview with him on Friday.

"I am, of course, in favor of the freedom of the press, which is a pillar of democracy. But I am equally for respecting everyone's sensibilities... So I deplore the situation," said Chirac, who visits India next week. 



Two Muslim clerics in Pak stab to death accused blasphemer

Multan (Pakistan), June 16: Two Islamic clerics allegedly stabbed to death a man accused of blasphemy outside a court in central Pakistan today, police said.

The Mullahs armed with knives attacked Abdus Sattar Gopang outside a trial court in Muzaffargarh district in Punjab province, district police chief Rai Tahir said.

Gopang was brought to the court in a case registered against him three months ago on charges that he abused Allah and the Prophet Mohammed during a brawl with a truck driver, he said.

Police rushed to the scene and dragged away the two Mullahs, identified as Maulvi Imran and Mohammad Iqbal, their ripped tunics still splattered with blood, witnesses said.

They also attacked and injured a policeman.

In a separate incident a frenzied mob beat a teacher to death when he tried to help a Muslim cleric in a row over alleged desecration of the Koran, a local police chief said.

The prayer leader was attacked by more than 1,000 people at Hasilpur town in Punjab after claims that he burned pages from an old copy of the holy book near a drain, Nasir Sayal said.

"A retired school teacher came in and tried to save the cleric but he was also severely beaten by the mob and later died in hospital," he said.

Both victims belonged to the hardline Islamic Jamaat-ud-Dawa Party, an incarnation of the banned Kashmir militant group Laskhar-e-Taeba, he added.

Bureau Report


Muslim cleric threatens suicide attacks
By Sheraz Khurram Khan

April 7, 2007

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A hard-line Muslim cleric has threatened to unleash a wave of suicide attacks if the Pakistan government tries to counter his bid of enforcing Islamic laws in the federal capital through vigilante Islamic courts that he announced he would set up.

Maulana Abdul Aziz made the threat while addressing the Friday congregation in the Lal Masjid (red mosque) located near the city centre of Islamabad.

“The government has been saying that an operation against us is the last option, I want to tell the government that suicide attacks are our last option,” the Reuters News Agency quoted him as saying.

Maulana Aziz, the chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, flexing his “religious muscles” in a Taliban-like fashion, set a one-month deadline for the government to ensure closure of music shops and bordellos.

Last month, the cleric's quest for eroding “immorality” resulted in imprisonment of three women accused of being prostitutes in Jamia Hafsa, a radical religious school that is being run under his patronage.
Aziz reportedly said the religious school students will take action themselves to stamp out vice from the capital if the government failed to do so.

“Our youths will shake their palaces with their suicide attacks,” the Reuters News Agency quoted him as telling Friday congregation at the mosque.

“They should not take the law into their own hands; this will create lawlessness in the country. We will not allow them, I will not allow this,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf as telling a convention on Friday.

Pakistan's leading Human Rights Activist, Asma Jehangir, reportedly said a rally would take place in the eastern city of Lahore on April 19 to condemn the cleric's moves.