Pakistani Taliban beaten for trying to stop soccer match

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The Independent Football

After more than 100 Pakistani Taliban halted a soccer match, calling the players' dress a violation of Islam, hundreds of angry tribesmen attacked them with stones, police said Saturday.

After more than 100 Pakistani Taliban halted a soccer match, calling the players' dress a violation of Islam, hundreds of angry tribesmen attacked them with stones, police said Saturday.

Several people were injured in the brawl Friday, witnesses said.

The group of more than 100 Taliban, or students of Islam, forced their way into a sports stadium in the tribal town of Landikotal on the border with Afghanistan, demanding that the match be abandoned, said Sahibzada Anees, a senior government official.

Hundreds of tribesmen responded by beating them, some with assault rifles, police said.

"There was a fierce hand-to-hand fight and members of the two sides kicked and punched each other," Anees said from Landikotal, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) west of Peshawar, the capital of the semi-autonomous Northwest Frontier Province.

Several people were injured, witnesses said.

The Taliban say shorts and short-sleeved shirts violate Islam's dress code, which forbids even men from exposing any part of their bodies. Ultra-orthodox Islamic clerics say that athletes must also properly cover their bodies and must not shave or trim their beards.

Anees said the Pakistani Taliban, members of a religious school adjacent to the stadium, also were complaining that spectators' loud cheers and shouts disturbed their prayers and religious studies.

Earlier Friday, the same group of the Taliban set ablaze a house where a private musical performance was held 10 days ago.

The hard-line Pakistani Taliban want to impose a harsh brand of Islam similar to that espoused by Afghanistan's Taliban ruling militia.

The Afghan Taliban, who rule more than 90 percent of Afghanistan, bar women from work and education, require them to wear veils and forbid them from traveling without a male family member. The Afghan Taliban have also outlawed all light entertainment, including television and music.

The Pakistani Taliban, encouraged by the success of the Afghan Taliban, have also launched a campaign against television and women's education, a move bitterly resisted by the tribal people.

"The Taliban have no right to interfere in other peoples' lives in the name of religion," said Ibrahim Shinwari, one of the organizers of the soccer match.

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