As others have noticed, British fringe Islamist Anjem Choudary has announced a conference to take place in Pakistan at the end of the month. It will supposedly include a “Declaration of Fatwa on Malala Yousafzal”, to be delivered by his timorous old associate Omar Bakri Muhammad.
Choudary, of course, is a sociopathic narcissist who spends most of his ample free time trying to think up ways to gain self-publicity through being monumentally offensive; it is therefore distasteful to draw further attention to his stunts. However, in this instance, there is apparently an international dimension worth noting: the conference, on the general theme of “Shariah 4 Pakistan”, is billed as due to take place at the Lal Masjid in Pakistan.
The Lal Masjid is also known in English as the “Red Mosque”. We cannot know whether Choudary really has booked the mosque as his venue, and it’s highly likely that he expects that an intervention by the authorities that will allow him to announce a cancellation. However, a recent Los Angeles Times following Malala’s shooting contained the following detail:
…During Friday prayers at Islamabad’s Red Mosque, site of a 2007 government siege against Islamic extremists that ended in more than 100 deaths, an imam belittled the girl for her admiration of President Obama and criticized the media for focusing so much attention on her.
“All the media is showing is the bleeding head of this child. Why don’t they show the dead bodies torn apart in drone attacks?” the imam said in his sermon.
It’s not immediately clear who this “Imam” is, although the mosque has been associated with various militant and violent figures; a 2011 report at Asia News related that:
The imam of Islamabad’s famous Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) has accused the government of “corrupting the country”. He has called on the “soldiers of Islam” to fight “to create an Islamic nation” where “Sharia laws can be enforced”.
In 2007, the mosque was the site of a siege; the BBC reported:
Students at the mosque and its attached religious schools have waged a campaign for months pressing for Sharia law.
…Security forces began a full-scale siege of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) last week, not long after mosque students abducted seven Chinese workers they accused of running a brothel.
Dozens were killed in the ensuing shoot-out, although one of the militant mosque leaders, whose mother, brother, and son all died, himself escaped “dressed as a woman in a traditional black burqa”. The deaths during the operation have been raised by the Taliban as a bit of whataboutery in relation to its failed attempt to murder the schoolgirl Malala.
Choudary’s conference flyer and associated website promise only a “trial” for Malala; as usual, he sails as close as he can to the wind while making a token effort not to cross the line into open incitement – but it’s blindingly obvious that he’s hoping to whip up militants who have already shown a willingness to kill.
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