These Misunderstanders of Islam don’t seem to know that jihad is primarily an interior spiritual struggle, not warfare to impose Sharia. One would think that Abdul Aziz, being a cleric, would know that. When is the Council on American-Islamic Relations going to expand operations internationally and start programs to educate Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere about the true, peaceful Islam?
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A radical Pakistani cleric was released from detention on Thursday and given a hero’s welcome at his mosque, declaring that those killed there in an army assault nearly two years ago did not die in vain.
The release of the former chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, Abdul Aziz, will be welcomed by militants throughout Pakistan and took place days after the government effectively ceded control of a northwestern valley to militants to end violence.
“The struggle for the enforcement of Islamic law in Pakistan will continue,” Aziz told hundreds of cheering supports after they carried him aloft into the city-centre mosque.
“The sacrifices of the martyrs of the Red Mosque and Jamia Hafsa will not be in vain,” he said, referring to a women’s religious school, or madrasa, in the mosque complex.
More than 100 people were killed when commandos stormed the complex after a week-long standoff in July 2007, leading to a surge in militant attacks that has intensified in recent months….
Aziz was well known for his radical sermons, even calling for suicide attacks in the interests of his vision of Islam.
“Jihad, jihad,” shouted his supporters, including hundreds of young women, as Aziz, wearing a turban and with a long grey beard, arrived at the mosque on Thursday evening.
Aziz was caught trying to slip out of the mosque dressed in a woman’s burqa during the 2007 standoff with security forces, days before the commando assault. His brother, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, also a cleric at the mosque, was killed in the assault….
President Asif Ali Zardari, under pressure from conservatives, signed a regulation on Monday imposing Islamic sharia law in the Swat valley to end Taliban violence there.
Note to Reuters: “conservatives” are much more likely than “liberals” actually to oppose Sharia.
The strategy of appeasement has alarmed U.S. officials, while critics say the government has demonstrated a lack of capacity and will to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda.
“The Taliban are taking Swat back to the Dark Ages and the Pakistani government is now complicit in their horrific abuses,” Human Rights Watch said.