ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Thousands of Pakistani Islamists vowed support for jihad, or Muslim holy war, on Sunday as they gathered at a mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to mark the first anniversary of an army raid on the complex.
More than 100 people were killed when commandos stormed the Red Mosque complex, which included a madrasa or Islamic seminary, on July 10 last year, after a week-long siege that began when gunmen from the mosque clashed with police outside.
Tiny Minority of Extremistsâ„¢ Update:
Speakers told a crowd of several thousand, most of them men, that U.S. ally President Pervez Musharraf was to blame for the bloodshed.
When have we ever seen a crowd of several thousand Muslims demonstrating against Osama bin Laden and other “hijackers” of Islam? How many Muslims did the Free Muslims attract for their March Against Terrorism a few years back? Fifty would be a generous estimate.
“Pervez Musharraf, you thought you could crush the Islamic movement by attacking the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), but we are telling you, you have failed,” Shah Abdul Aziz, a cleric and former member of the parliament, told the crowd.
“It was done at the behest of America and Bush. But I want to tell America jihad will continue, it will never stop,” he said.
The protesters, most of them religious students, shouted “al jihad” in response….
Religious students, you say? And not one of them jumped up and said, “Hey, fellows, why are you shouting ‘al jihad’? Don’t you know jihad is a peaceful interior spiritual struggle?”