Judge orders arrest of ‘pro-Taliban’ imam who refused to condemn Peshawar school massacre

Protesters say the radical cleric threatened them outside his mosque

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The Independent Online

A judge in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant for a radical imam who refused to condemn the Taliban’s recent attack on children at an army-run school.

Imam Abdul Aziz is also accused of threatening demonstrators as they protested against him outside the Red Mosque, in Islamabad.

The cleric told the BBC: “The government should arrest those accused of more significant cases, like murder and kidnapping.

"My case is very small and even a sub-inspector can grant me bail."

Last week, Taliban fighters attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 152 people, including 133 children. Activists lodged a complaint against Mr Aziz, saying that they had been threatened by mosque employees during a protest about his refusal to condemn this massacre.

According to Anbarasan Ethirajan, of the BBC’s World Service, Mr Aziz is well-known for his pro-Taliban views. Earlier this year, a school run by the imam renamed its library “Bin Laden”, in honour of the former al-Qaeda leader.

 

The Red Mosque said it would resist the arrest of Mr Aziz.

The demonstrators are also being investigated for holding an unlawful protest.

Pakistan has stepped up its anti-terror operations since the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: "The Peshawar attack has shocked the nation. We will not let the blood of our children go in vain."

He added that there was a "changed Pakistan" since the tragedy, and that now there would be "no place for terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance."

Earlier this week, the Pakistani government announced new measures to tackle terrorism, including the establishment of military courts to hear terrorism-related cases and the reinstatement of the death penalty.

At least six people have already been executed after being sentenced to death in the military courts.

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