ISLAMABAD: A heavy contingent of police and Rangers were deployed in the areas surrounding Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad on Friday following an announcement by cleric Abdul Aziz to restart his 'Sharia Law' campaign.
Despite refusal from the district administration and the threat of house arrest, the firebrand Lal Masjid had vowed to give a sermon at the mosque on Friday, and restart his campaign to enforce Sharia Law.
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In December last year, the Aabpara police registered a case against Aziz for criminal intimidation. Around the same time, the government withdrew the official security he had enjoyed for three years. The interior minister had already told the media that Aziz was not the state-approved prayer leader for the mosque.
A senior administration official, while requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune administration would not allow Aziz to access the mosque, and if he tries, he could be arrested.
The official said Lal Masjid — which is government owned — is not an ordinary mosque. It has a dangerous history, and the administration cannot just allow Aziz to restart his activities, said the official.
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He added the administration is bound to ensure the implementation of National Action Plan, the slow pace of which has already been criticised by the military.
“We can’t afford such activities, especially in the capital,” the official said.
On November 8, Aziz told the media he would restart his activities. Since then, the administration has been trying to convince him to amicably drop the plan.
Sources in the administration said Aziz had assured the administration he would not take any unlawful step.
Aziz was not available to speak with The Express Tribune, but his personal secretary Abdul Qadir had said Aziz will give the Friday sermon. Nobody could stop Aziz as “it was his right,” he had said.
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He said Aziz will reach the mosque in a congregation along with girls from the Jamia Hafsa girls seminary. When asked that the administration refused to give him permission, he replied there was no need for permission.
He claimed Aziz had been “on leave” but would still give sermons over the phone during the last year.