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Lal Masjid: A name synonymous with radical Islam
K J M Varma in Islamabad | July 09, 2007 17:53 IST
Red is the colour militant Islamists shunned because it is identified with communists, or a kafir, meaning an infidel, but the Lal Masjid or the Red Mosque currently besieged by Pakistani troops to flush out militants remained synonymous with its 'red' brand of Islam ever since its inception over four decades ago.
The sprawling Masjid in central Islamabad perhaps is one of the rare mosques to have a name not connected with Islamic religion.
True to its name, it remained a centre of defiance ever since it was constructed in 1965, even though it was managed by the government.
Lal Masjid is the name given by Auqaf department that managed it, which many believe was due to its red-coloured walls and interiors.
Over the years, it became a centre of radical Islam playing a major role in generating the jihadis to fight the occupation of Afghanistan by erstwhile Soviet Union and after that transferred into a centre of extremist Sunni ideology.
Maulana Abhdullah, the father of the two clerics, Abdul Aziz and his younger brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi was chosen as the first cleric of the mosque by none other than Pakistan's first military ruler Ayub Khan.
The clerics remained in the payrole of the government ever since receiving state funds, salary and patronage.
Aziz was caught while fleeing from the besieged masjid in a burqa, while Ghazi along with hundreds of miltants are still holed up inside vowing to fight till death.