Protestors gathered outside the Lal Masjid on Thursday evening to protest against Maulana Abdul Aziz for his unwillingness to condemn the brutal attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, which left 148 people, mostly students, dead besides scores others injured.
According to Rasanews, anger in Pakistan at the massacre of 141 people in a school in Peshawar hit Islamabad’s infamous Red Mosque on Thursday as protesters condemned its extremist clerics over their failure to fully condemn the killings.
By the standards of civil protests in Islamabad the turnout of nearly 200 was sizeable. But it was the location, which one protester said symbolised “the Taliban mindset”, that was remarkable.
Surrounded by a large contingent of riot police, the demonstrators gathered yards from the gates of a building that was the scene of a bloody ten-day siege between extremists and security forces in 2007.
According to The Guardian, angry and emotional speeches were punctuated by cries denouncing the Red Mosque establishment as friends of the Taliban and traitors.
Particular ire was directed against Abdul Aziz, the mosque leader who in a television appearance after the killing of 141 people at the army public school in Peshawar on Tuesday refused to unconditionally condemn the attack claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
According to Rasa News Agency, in his televised statement, Mualana Abdul Aziz said he would not condemn a single incident. “It is inappropriate to condemn one incident and remain silent on the other,” he said.
At one point a senior mosque official attempted to speak to the furious crowd but was angrily shouted down and retreated back into the building.
Popular anger at the slaughter of so many young children remains high, and several militant organisations, including the Afghan Taliban and TTP splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar have been moved to publicly condemn the attack. On Thursday the TTP’s spokesman sent an email attempting to justify the group’s actions, claiming “we do not target civilian sites”.
In a statement given to a TV channel, Mualana Abdul Aziz said he would not condemn a single incident. “It is inappropriate to condemn one incident and remain silent on the other,” he said.
Contradicting a wealth of evidence, spokesman Mohammad Khorasani claimed the suicide attackers killed “only fifty youth” and only after they had been identified as the children of army officers.
Islamabad’s Red Mosque enjoys an iconic status among Pakistani extremists. In recent times it has named a library in honour of former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and its female madrassa students published a video this month in praise of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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