Pakistani cleric Aziz Ghazi has re-launched his campaign for the implementation of the Shariah law in the country. Analysts downplay the importance of Aziz's movement, but say the cleric should be dealt with seriously.
Pro-Taliban Pakistani cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi has re-launched his campaign for the implementation of the Shariah law in the country. Pakistani authorities have beefed up security around Lal Masjid (the Red Mosque) in the capital Islamabad following a call for protest by firebrand Islamic cleric Ghazi.
Ghazi says he wants his supporters to come out and demand that the government implement Shariah in the country. The authorities, however, say they won't allow any such protest to take place.
Ghazi leads prayers at the Red Mosque, which was the site of a violent confrontation in July 2007 between Islamists and the security forces, which claimed at least 154 lives. Ghazi was the central figure during the siege of the mosque along with his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed during the raid. Ghazi was arrested, but was released by the Supreme Court in 2009.
"Pakistan was created for the implementation of the Islamic system, but it is still far from it," Ghazi said in a video message on Sunday, November 15.
Not a serious threat
Analysts say that although Ghazi's Shariah movement should be taken seriously, it doesn't pose any real threat. Kamal Siddiqi, a Pakistani journalist, says he doesn't expect things to get out of control this time around.
"Ghazi is trying to re-establish his authority after staying out of the public eye for quite some time. This has more to do with his personal objectives than anything else," Siddiqi told DW.
But the journalist also points out that Ghazi's Islamist rhetoric is part of a bigger extremist discourse in the country. "The government usually doesn't like to confront religious groups. Ghazi's case is similar."
Pakistani rights activists and civil society organizations have long demanded that the government crack down on Ghazi's madrassa (Islamic seminary) and prevent his students from promoting hate speech.
Earlier this year, Jibran Nasir, a lawyer and activist, held demonstrations against Ghazi in many Pakistani cities. The campaign against Ghazi, however, ran out of steam after few weeks.
Shaan Taseer, who was part of the anti-Ghazi campaign, says the organizers of the campaign wanted to set a precedent. "Ghazi, who was considered untouchable by many, was confronted directly by the civil society," Taseer told DW.
Experts say the reason why clerics like Ghazi are free to undertake their activities, and openly support militant groups like the Taliban and "Islamic State," is because of the government's inaction.
"The attack on a Peshawar school in December should have been an eye-opener, but the government hasn't done anything to punish the culprits and their supporters," Taseer underlined.