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Pak's Lal Masjid derecognised: cleric

June 29, 2007 12:25 IST

The radical seminary involved in a stand-off with the government over Taliban-style moral policing is no more recognised by the board that oversees these institutions in Pakistan, a top Islamic cleric visiting the United States has said.

The Jamia Hafsa seminary, which is linked to the Lal Masjid in Islamabad and the centre of a campaign for the enforcement of Sharia in the country for the past several months, is no more recognised by the board that oversees madrassas (seminary) in Pakistan, said Qari Mohammed Hanif Jalandhry, a member of a delegation of clerics visiting Washington.

"While we sympathise with several of their demands, we strongly disagree with their method of achieving those objectives. Islam does not condone coercive measures," said Jalandhry, a member of the central council of Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris Deenia.

The Pakistani delegation is visiting the US to brief US lawmakers, officials, academics and other members of the American society on the state of religious schools in Pakistan.

The activities of the radical seminaries of Lal Masjid -- Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Faridia in Islamabad -- came up at almost every discussion the delegation attended in Washington and also during their visit to the Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The US lawmakers also quizzed the delegation about the concept of jehad in Islam, particularly the difference between jehad and terrorism, suicide attacks, and the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, the Dawn daily said in a report from Washington.

"It is wrong to blame a nation or a religion for the crimes committed by a few individuals," the daily quoted Maulana Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, president of Tanzeemul Madaris, as telling US lawmakers.

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