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Amidst the Red Mosque Islamists

Latest update : 2008-07-08

Franck Berruyer, FRANCE 24's special correspondent in Islamabad, met with Islamists who have been fighting for Islamic law since the raid on the Red Mosque.


In Pakistan's capital Islamabad, the Red Mosque is now white. A stone's throw away from its freshly painted walls, a suicide bomber killed 18 police officers on Monday.


After the army stormed this Islamist stronghold just one year ago, the buildings that used to house the madrasa, the Koranic school, were demolished.


But the members of the Red Mosque have not given up. These days, they teach their children the Koran in the open air, on the ruins of the madrasa.


And their teaching is a very radical one. "Around 2000 students were killed in the raid", a militant explains. "But we're proud of their sacrifice. Their spilled blood will usher in the revolution."


Women, too, are taking part. "Musharraf and the Americans are responsible for the destruction of the Red Mosque. The Americans have called us a threat for a long time. But we believe in God; and God will be kinder to us", Ume Hassan, the wife of the mosque's former sheikh, said through a black veil that only showed her eyes.


"Smoke will continue to rise"


Since the raid on the mosque, Islamist militants have become more active in a number of regions in Pakistan.


"(Monday’s) suicide attack was a response to the raid on the Red Mosque,” said the radical South Waziristan Senator Maulana Saleh Shah, suggesting the government’s “brutality” would prompt further attacks. Indeed, "smoke will continue to rise in the future", he added.


The members of the Red Mosque are specifically asking for the application of Sharia law in the entire country. Their leaders encourage a Jihad against President Musharraf and his American allies.


To obtain the grace of God, they are ready to do anything.


Date created : 2008-07-08