Pakistan Islamist parties call for protest rallies
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 7/22/2005 | 4:29 pm
Stung into action by Pakistani connections with the July 7 attacks on London that killed 56 people, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf ordered a crackdown on religious schools, known as madrasas on Wednesday.
Since revelations that three of the four London bombers were British Muslims of Pakistani origin who had visited the country before the attacks, more than 300 militant suspects have been detained across Pakistan.
In response, Pakistan's main alliance of Islamist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, called for protest rallies after Friday prayers, when tens of millions of Pakistanis visit mosques.
Reuters reported today that like previous calls for demonstrations against President Pervez Musharraf's support for the US-led "war on terror", it failed to draw big crowds.
Up to 700 Islamists, most of them teenagers or in their 20s, chanted anti-Musharraf and anti-US slogans at Islamabad's Lal or Red Mosque, which was raided on Tuesday by security forces searching for militants.
Pakistani media reported that Pakistan's investigation into links with the London bombings has focused on Lahore and other cities, like Sargodha, in the eastern province of Punjab, where some 50 more people were arrested around Multan overnight.
In the southern province of Sindh, police have arrested 45 people, including Maulana Ali Sher Hyderi, a top leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a Sunni extremist group with a record of attacks on the country's minority Shi'ite Muslims.
Pakistan Tribune reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair telephoned president Gen Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday, agreeing with the latter on further promoting Pakistan-UK support and cooperation in war on terror and exchanging information and intelligence against terrorists involved in recent London blasts.
Tony Blair said Wednesday he was considering calling an international conference on how to root out Islamic extremism, particularly in madrasas.
Meanwhile, British detectives continued to hunt for the masterminds of the attacks that killed 56 people, but a foreign media reported Wednesday that authorities remain uncertain whether an organizer slipped out of Britain just before the July 7 blasts on three Underground trains and a double-decker bus.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that the suspected Pakistani mastermind of the July 7 bombings is believed to have arrived by boat to trigger the four bombers, then left the country a day before the attack.
“The four July 7 bombers did not have to enroll in a Pakistani religious school or madrassa to learn about Islamic extremism, because it was available in Yorkshire,” argued The Daily Telegraph.
The paper added that Britain has allowed militant Muslim preachers freedom to preach their message of hate in the mosques, the meeting halls and the sitting rooms of British Muslims.
“Literature and videos promoting extremism have been allowed to spread deep into the Muslim community. Experts now think it unlikely that the three London bombers who came to Pakistan last year enrolled in a madrassa to become ideologised.
Instead, they arrived fully brainwashed and probably used their time making contact with al-Qaida and Pakistani militant groups to train in explosives,” the paper went on.
The Daily Telegraph also argued that British Muslims must share a great part of the blame for failing to speak out against the extremists living in their midst, refusing to integrate or agree to mixed marriages, and insisting upon bringing prayer leaders from their home villages - men who are either totally ignorant of the world or are extremists.