Islamabad cleric harps on ‘Sharia law’, security beefed

Islamabad, Nov 13 (IANS) A heavy contingent of police and Rangers was deployed on Friday in the areas surrounding Lal Masjid in capital city of Pakistan following an announcement by cleric Abdul Aziz to restart his “Sharia law” campaign again.

Despite refusal from the district administration and the threat of house arrest, the firebrand Lal Masjid cleric has vowed to give a sermon at the mosque on Friday and restart his campaign to enforce Sharia law in the country, Dawn reported.

In December last year, the Aabpara police registered a case against Aziz for criminal intimidation. At the same time, the government withdrew the official security he enjoyed for three years.

The interior minister had already told the media that Aziz was not the state-approved prayer leader for the mosque.

This was not the first time Aziz has vowed to enforce Sharia in the country. Earlier in April 2007, Lal Masjid clerics vowed to enforce what they called “Shariat” (Islamic system) in the country even if the government does not want to do so.

The Lal Masjid administration had also threatened to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government took any action to counter it.

The announcement was followed by agitation which erupted into street battles around the mosque between security forces and militants. At least nine people died in the clashes and over 150 were injured.

Security forces then laid siege to the mosque, later demanding an unconditional surrender and the release of alleged hostages held inside. Aziz was arrested sneaking out of the mosque dressed in a burqa.

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