Pakistan: Nationwide protests against killing of religious scholar
Cities across Pakistan closed down in protest and mourning at the murder of religious scholar Allama Sarfraz Naeemi in a Taliban suicide attack on 19 June. As thousands of people attended the funeral, businesses and markets closed, and trade and public transport came to a standstill across Sindh, Punjab and Quetta. The traders said that ‘the attacks on religious scholars, mosques and other worship places by the terrorists were a shameful and cowardice act’. President of Anjuman Tajran Anarkali Lahore also highlighted that as a result of terrorism, traders have suffered losses of billions of rupees as main business centres had to remain closed for long periods of time.
In a follow up to Naeemi’s killing, Ulema and Mashaikh across Pakistan spoke out, giving their full support to efforts against terrorism and extremism. In a meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Islamic scholars agreed to take a leading role in portraying the true picture of Islam that preached peace, tolerance, and interfaith harmony – ‘Our forefathers spread Islam through Tableegh and not through the sword’
SOURCE: Pakistan presses
PAKISTAN: Public turn against Taliban and AQ
80% of the Pakistani public say the Taliban pose a serious threat to the stability of the country, according to a survey by World Public Opinion. Most Pakistanis now see the Pakistani Taliban, as well as al Qa`ida, as a critical threat to the country, signalling a major shift from 18 months ago, and support the government and army in their fight in the Swat Valley. An overwhelming majority think that Taliban groups who seek to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan.
SOURCE: Reuters, 1 July 09; BBC News, 6 June 09
PAKISTAN: Local tribesmen acting against Taleban to save communities
Angry villagers attacked Taliban militants on 6 June in retaliation for a suicide attack on a mosque during Friday prayers in the mountainous Hayagay Sharqi region of NW Pakistan, in which 49 people, including children, were killed. According to Geo News, as many as 1,600 tribesmen joined a citizens’ militia in Dir Upper district – an indication of rising anti-Taleban sentiment in Pakistan. Many in Pakistan see the change in national mood as the ‘turning of the tide’ against extremism, as the support of the middle classes for the offensive against the Taliban now has the support of local villages.
SOURCE: Widely reported in Press
UK: Support for Taliban decreases among British Pashtuns
Following the loss of life and destruction inflicted on the Swat valley, many British Pashtuns, who previously dreamt about returning to Pakistan to fight alongside AQ and the Taliban, are now looking at these groups as the enemy. Citing the killing of women and children; displacement of people; desecration of shrines; and ‘disregard for life’; community leaders and young Pashtun men are speaking out against the terrorist groups that once enjoyed their support. Mohammed Yousuf Javed, a young Pashtun, summed it up by saying ‘Innocent blood has been spilled. The Taliban’s actions are not morally right.’ Again reflecting the change of opinion towards AQ and the Taliban, another young Pashtun said ‘Up until the recent broader change of opinion about the Taliban, you could hear young people express support for the idea of jihad. But it was a very small minority and whether they were serious you could never really say…But that’s changed now.’
SOURCE: Reuters, 10 June 09
YEMEN: Protest in Yemeni capital against kidnapping of foreigners
Hundreds of people held a demonstration in Sanaa in protest at the kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen. In a statement the protestors said ‘Kidnapping is not in line with Islamic principles and customs of the Yemeni people…Kidnappers are harming Yemen and the people’s interest with their acts and they really want to destabilize the nation.’ They added ‘On behalf of all the Yemeni people, we apologize for the families of the abducted and their countries and already wanted to tell them kidnapping and terrorism belong to no specific country.’
SOURCE: Saba news agency website, 29 Jun 09
FULL STORY: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news187917.htm