The Jamia Hafsa seminary for women in Islamabad has renamed its library in honour of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The seminary is run by hardline cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, the imam of the city’s Lal Masjid. The mosque was the scene of a week-long military siege against radicals in 2007 which left more than 100 people dead.
The small library stocks Islamic texts. “It is true that we have named the library after Osama bin Laden,” a source told AFP on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He might be a terrorist for others but we do not consider him as a terrorist. For us he was a hero of Islam.” A small printed sign stuck over the library door gives bin Laden’s name and refers to him as a “martyr”.
Bin Laden was killed in a US special forces raid in Abbottabad in 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2014.