Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pakistan Minister Faces Edict Over Hug 

Pakistan Minister Faces Edict Over Hug - washingtonpost.com

A female Pakistani minister was already killed last month for perceived violations of Islamic law. Now, another minister fears for her life.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's tourism minister says she fears for her life after clerics at a radical mosque issued an edict accusing her of sinning by hugging her French parachute jumping instructor, the state news agency reported.

Minister of Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar told a parliamentary committee of her fear on Saturday following the Taliban-style edict against her by Islamic clerics at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Two clerics at the mosque said the hug was "an illegitimate and forbidden act" and "without any doubt, she has committed a great sin."

The clerics issued the edict against Bakhtiar last Sunday, demanding that she be dismissed, her family punish her and she be made to ask for forgiveness after pictures in the Pakistani media showed Bakhtiar hugging her parachute jumping instructor at a fundraising jump in France.

Hundreds of students from an Islamic seminary attached to the mosque have been running an anti-vice campaign in Islamabad, threatening music shops and brothels, in a bold challenge to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally who has pledged to promote moderate Islam.

The mosque's chief cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, is an outspoken critic of Pakistan's support of the U.S.-led war on terror.

About 100,000 people rallied in Karachi Sunday to protest the seminary's anti-vice campaign. The mass protest was organized by the Mutahida Qami Movement, or MQM, a party based in the southern port city that strongly supports Musharraf.

The war in Pakistan is that of two competing visions for the future.



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