Update: Dr. M has some more info on this affair as well as some great clips from Dr. Shahid Masood. See here.
I have been meaning to write a follow-up to my previous post on the Lal masjid for some time. Abu Ameerah rightfully mentions that the coverage by Muslim bloggers in the West has been pathetic. Nuqtah issues a scathing indictment on those who have engaged in intellectual snobbery and brown-nosing (sounds like this “hey look at us, we condemn 'them' more than you”). Abid-ullah tries to decipher it as well here. Dr. M, in his typical style, doesn't hold anything back and also touches upon the “gangster” Altaf Hussein. Br. Naeem has a “post-mortem” on it as well. One article that my dear brother Naeem's post links to is extremely shameful and descipable with that particular blogger referring to the Muslims in this masjid as “terrorists”– name-calling that even the Western media has mostly avoided. In fact, the people that don't call themselves Muslims have been much fairer, see here. Counterpunch had another good article here.
Below you will find a translation of an Urdu article that appeared in Jang newspaper. There is some interesting background information on the clerics of the Lal masjid.
I still insist that the masjid administration did take many foolhardy actions prior to this final massacre. However, the article places even those actions, such as the kidnapping of the Chinese women, into doubt. Now, let me tell you that I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but when it comes to believing the masjid party or Musharraf, I would take any decent Muslim over Musharraf a million times.
And whosoever supports Musharraf and in the same breath talks about “democracy” and the “rule of the law” is talking from both sides of his mouth. Musharraf is a dictator, a cruel, machiavellean evilmonger whose only plan since his ascension to power is to strengthen it. He has pretty much killed the political scene in Pakistan along with the current “ruling” political party, who are a bunch of his stooges. He tried to kill judicial independence as well but alhamdulilah, in this one, he could not overcome the will of the people and was given a handy defeat.
So, what's my bottom line:
- The Lal masjid administrators either engaged in vigilante actions that were not appropriate for an entity that does not have that mandate from the government OR they were set up. Either way, they did not do a good job deflecting the bad PR that it gained.
- Busharraf is not the type to be “merciful to the believers”, so why does anyone think that he gave the Lal masjid “too much leash”? This wasn't a leash, this was a planned, calculated move to drag a situation out, in order to be used at an opportune time.
- I now absolutely believe that Moulana Abdul Aziz was ASKED by government negotiators to come out in a Burqa. It was a masterful (evil) plan by Musharraf and his clones to capture him and to do in a way that would tarnish the cleric's reputation immediately. If indeed that was the case, then I ask for Allāh's forgiveness regarding my falling in this evil PR trap and believing the official government line.
- The alleged stash of weapons found in the masjid were almost undoubtedly planted by the government. Otherwise, why would it take them so much time to allow the media in? As I was talking to my dad in Pakistan, most people believe this to be the case.
- While the government claims about a hundred deaths, and the religious parties put the number a thousand, I am inclined to believe that the number is about 500. That is 500 too many dead human beings. If the government was not hiding anything, then why were the victims buried in the dead of the night?
- Another claim by Musharraf and his cronies in order to “sell” the massacre to the gullible Western media was that there were foreign fighters in the Mosque. So, where are they then? Why weren't their bodies displayed, which would definitely have been if they were indeed there?
- Also, the claim about using women and children as human shield. I mean these pathetic little blurbs are so obviously “propagandish” that I don't know how anyone could believe them. See this article and videos that contain interviews with the students who left the masjid (in Urdu), and how the students flatly denied any pressure to stay. It's one thing to claim that people were “brainwashed” into staying (which would have some remote credibility), and its quite another to claim that people were forced to stay. Then again, the latter provides dictators and criminals more of the bad press that they need against the victims in order to justify the dictators' excesses.
- The US government lauded the massacre. So did Russia, which of course is busy with its own ongoing massacre in Chechnya. Good job there, US government. Great way to win the “hearts and minds” of the Muslims by commending the mass murder of hundreds of people by a dictator, who has tried to kill all democratic institutions in Pakistan. Couldn't our “democratic”, “humane”, “human-rights tops everything” government instead call for an OFFICIAL inquiry into the incident. Remember Koresh in Waco? What is so different between the two situations that one called for so many enquiries into the FBI's handling of the incident, while the other is being commended without an official, independent inquiry?
- The massacre could have been avoided if the government wanted. But why would Musharraf want a peaceful end? By being a state-terrorist, he was able to prove to the rest of the world that he is their REAL man against terrorism. Seems that there was a negotiated settlement at hand… image and power over spilled blood… what an evil choice to make!
By speaking the truth and saying out loud that this massacre was unjust does not mean that we support militancy or vigilante actions. But just like most Americans spoke up against the massacre at Waco, Muslims should speak up against the massacre in the Lal masjid. We CANNOT trust the ruthless dictator's “official story”, whose flip-flops on all sorts of issues are well known– flip-flops based on what would be more politically expedient for him. We should demand, as Muslims, as Pakistanis, as human beings that an official, independent enquiry (preferably by a non-Pakistani entity) take place and determine what really transpired. We demand that those responsible for the massacre be brought to justice. And if they are not brought to justice in this world, surely Allāh is the Most Just.
We pray to Allāh that He forgive the errors and sins of those who died and enter them into paradise. And may Allāh forgive me for any errors, mistakes, injustice that I may have committed in all my statements regarding the Lal masjid issue.
Death of the Rebel by Hamid Mir
(Translated from the original Urdu article here by Hassan Mushtaq)
Late Moulana Muḥammad Abdullah quite often expressed dissatisfaction with his younger son Abdur-Rashid Ghazi. Moulana was the head of local moon-sighting committee and was respected among scholars of the country. He decided to make both his sons, Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid, islamic scholars. Abdul Aziz acquired religious knowledge with extreme keenness and devotion, while Abdur-Rashid was interested in learning history. Against the wishes of his father, he did MA in History from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. Parents wanted him to marry in family, but he advocated hard, and got married in a moderate family of Islamabad. Women-folk of Moulana Abdullah family did not use to go outside, while wife of Abdur-Rashid drove outside in her Suzuki Alto, and Abdur-Rashid did not care to people's condemnation. His modernism did not mean that he was away from Islamic teachings. He was bearded man from youth, and he used to say, Islam is not only beard and loose clothes, but islam should be in our hearts.
In 1998, Moulana Abdullah with Moulana Zahoor Ahmad Alwi, Qari Saeed-ur-Rehman and some other scholars, toured Afghanistan. Moulana took his rebellious son specially with him. This delegation met Mulla Omar and Osama Bin Laden. Abdur-Rashid requested to meet Osama Bin Laden in seclusion, and they did meet for an hour in private. Abdur-Rashid Gazi, unlike his father, was not fluent in Arabic, so he conversed in English with Osama Bin Laden, and asked some tough questions. Osama Bin Laden answered all questions by this young guy. At the end of conversation, Abdur-Rashid Gazi picked up a glass of water next to Osama, and drank leftover. Osama expressed surprise at his actions, to which Gazi replied, I drank your leftover so that Allāh can make me warrior like you.
After returning from Qandhar, after sometime, an unknown man shot Moulana Abdullah in lal masjid, and he got martyred. Gazi was changed by the martyrdom of his father. This was the era when he used to work for federal ministry of education and he did not have much to do with masjid or madrassah. Abdur-Rashid Gazi pressed hard to get murderers of his father, and one guy got caught. Eye-witnesses at place of shooting all identified this person as the one, but later police let him go in a suspicious way. This led to a fierce storm in Abdu-Rashid Gazi. He started studying religious (islamic) studies and became assistant preacher (khateeb) in lal masjid.
When seven masājid were demolished in Islamabad in January 2007, the female students at Madrassah Hafsa attached to lal masjid took over government library nearby. This takeover was by Moulana Abdul Aziz and his wife Umm Hassan. Abdur-Rashid Gazi was against this action, but he did not bring this disagreement in public out of respect of elder brother. To end the siege, federal minister Aijaz-ul-Haq and association of madrassahs made some efforts. Abdur-Rashid Gazi at least twice came near ending the siege, but each time government turned his efforts in vain by sending notices to more mosques to shut down. One time, Abdur-Rashid Gazi told me that he felt government deliberately wants to keep this issue ongoing to defame madrassahs. It was decided that despite provocations from government, the siege should and, but sadly, Moulana Abdul Aziz did not listen to his younger brother, because there were elements in government institutions that were encouraging him not to give in.
I remember a time when Abdur-Rashid Gazi rebelled against his brother's adamancy, but his mother intervened. The mother told Gazi not to abandon his brother ever, and he obeyed. Then “Aunti Shamim” was abducted, followed by abduction of few policeman and then Chineese nationals. Abdur-Rashid did not know who ordered these abductions, but per brother's orders he had to defend them in media. There were lots of accusations on Gazi and his brother, the most significant one that they are doing theater with help of government to distract people from Judicial crisis in Pakistan.
Poor Gazi himself did not know how to refute this allegation. Even it was alleged in end of May 2007, that Musharraf is using lal masjid to cause chaos, because the negotiations between Lal masjid people and Choudary Shuja'at Hussain was successful, but he was told to prolong the negotiations further. Choudary could not resist and blamed government for failure of negotiations. In the last meeting, Abdur-Rashid Gazi told Choudary, you are indeed a sincere person, but we know the government would want to make this issue long and finish us off at right time to become triumphant in American eyes. One day Abdur-Rashid Gazi even said this that if they were really culprit, why could not government shut down their water and electricity? Even if then we refused to give in, then can't they get us with paralyzing gas?
On 7th of July, Choudary Shuja'at Hussain called me in and told that he wanted to talk to Abdur-Rashid Gazi for last time, but his phones have stopped working. Choudary wanted to talk one more time and I got hold of Abdur-Rashid Gazi and informed him about Choudary's request. Gazi laughed and said that Choudary was simple and did not know that it had been decided to kill us. On my insistence, he contacted Choudary again and hence negotiations started again. In these negotiations, he repeatedly said that his elder brother Abdul Aziz was deceived and caught, and I would be killed if I go out, so I prefer dying while fighting rather than dying in shame. And that is what he did. In last contacts, Gazi said, both sides are muslims, some way out should be sought and not spill blood of muslims. Gazi said, I tried a lot, but government wants to defame us and the whole issue is created by government, it has gained a lot of political benefits already and would gain it further after defaming us. Gazi was sure that only his death would be his success and defeat for government. He said our death would prove our innocence and our blood would be avenged by dignified muslims of this country. He never refused to acknowledge mistakes from his side, but reiterated that they were not huge mistakes. We captured a library in protest of demolition of masājid, we were fired at, and are being fired at, while those who demolished masājid are unaccountable. Gazi redeemed prestige of his family by giving up his life that was damaged by capture of his brother in “burqa” (women cloak).
I never favored steps taken by administration of lal masjid, but the way brutal force was used against them, ought to be condemned. If government wanted, the issue could have been resolved without single bullet been shot, but some elements intentionally took the path of violence and bloodshed. Abdur-Rashid Gazi is now more dangerous after his death, that is why instead of being buried in Islamabad next to his father, he was buried at “Rojhan Mazari”. If Gazi had been provided with justice in his father murder case, he may have been still officer at ministry of education. He revolted in reaction of the injustice. Whatever happened to him, whether it was right or wrong, would not be judged in the courts of this world, but only in the court of Allāh SWT.