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Angry students chase away new cleric

Students of Lal Masjid storm its premises, disrupt Friday prayers and drive out the government appointed cleric, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Jul 28, 2007 02:52 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times

A group of several hundred students of Lal Masjid, many of them recently released from custody, stormed its premises on Friday, disrupting Friday prayers and driving out the government appointed cleric who had been leading the prayers, creating a fresh problem for the government.

A former bastion of Islamic radicals, housing several thousand male and female students in adjacent dormitories, the Lal Masjid in Islamabad had been cleared by Pakistani security forces in a blood soaked encounter on July 10 and 11. With the Masjid being opened for prayers again, the radicals have promptly returned.

The security forces at the Masjid remained on alert but did not react at all as the students embarked on their takeover.

The students have also demanded that Maulana Abdul Aziz, who is in government custody and was one of two main clerics at the masjid be reinstated. Aziz is currently in jail.

The protesters raised a black flag, and climbed onto the roof of the mosque.