ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 04

Red Mosque radicals kidnap Chinese workers in raid

ISLAMABAD, Saturday (AFP) - Students from a radical mosque raided an acupuncture clinic allegedly used as a brothel in the Pakistani capital early today and kidnapped nine people, including six Chinese women. The abductors, including 10 burqa-clad women, were armed with batons when they broke into the clinic in one of Islamabad's most affluent neighbourhoods at about 1:00 am, a security official said.

“We have not kidnapped anyone, but have brought (in) six foreign girls and three men to convince them,” the students said in a statement. “This is a natural reaction of students against vulgarity and obscenity. Foreign girls at the massage centre were having sinful acts with men,” it added.

The incident is a further challenge for Pakistan's military leader President Pervez Musharraf, and comes amid angry protests by hardliners against Britain's award of a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie.

A member of the pro-Taliban Red Mosque told AFP that the raid by some 30 of their students was part of an anti-vice campaign.
“This place was used as a brothel and despite our warnings the administration failed to take any action, so we decided to take action on our own,” the mosque representative, who spoke by telephone, said.

The senior security official said the students arrived at the clinic in three cars, forced their way into the premises, and then took the captives to their mosque in central Islamabad.“The local administration is negotiating with the mosque to secure the release of the abducted people,” the security official told AFP.

Police officer Mohammad Naeem confirmed the incident.“We have registered a case against the mosque administration for the kidnapping,” he said.

Hardline clerics from the Red Mosque have carried out previous kidnappings of policemen and raids at alleged brothels, as well as shops selling music and videos, which its members consider vulgar. Abdul Rashid Ghazi, one of two brothers who head the Red Mosque, last month warned key US ally Musharraf that a Taliban-style opposition movement was emerging to challenge his regime.

The radical grouping caused a security crisis in May when it was involved in a six-day stand-off with police after it took two officers hostage, before releasing them on “Islamic and humanitarian grounds.”Before the policemen were released, Ghazi told AFP that the political upheaval in Pakistan would further the students' goal of creating a pure Islamic state.

According to Ghazi, the mosque's two seminaries in Islamabad teach 6,000 male students and 4,000 female students. It recently set up its own Islamic court, which issued a fatwa against a female minister who embraced a French paragliding instructor after a charity jump.

The students have also occupied a children's library in protest against the demolition of mosques that the government said had been built illegally. Ghazi's brother, Abdul Aziz, threatened in April to unleash “thousands” of suicide bombers if the government attempted a crackdown on the organisation's activities.

In a sermon after Friday prayers, Aziz had called on the mosque's followers to make extra efforts to enforce Islamic law in Pakistan instead of joining nationwide protests against “Satanic Verses” novelist Rushdie.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.