Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz threatening that the ‘Pakistan Taliban’ would destroy security officials who tried to remove the Afghan Taliban flag from Jamia Hafsa’s rooftop has people irked on social media.
In a video that circulated on social media on Saturday morning, Maulana Aziz stood his ground against police officers who were reportedly ordered to remove the flag from Lal Masjid-affiliated Jamia Hafsa’s roof. The cleric told the policemen to divert their attention to ‘hubs of indecency’ and not focus on the seminary. Aziz also cursed the police officers’ jobs and told them to leave the occupation after which God would give them better employment.
Red Mosque's Maulana Abdul Aziz is threatening policemen with violence who have come to remove Afghan Taliban flag from Jamia Hafsa. #Islamabad #Pakistan pic.twitter.com/D17kB6nMWI
— Roohan Ahmed (@Roohan_Ahmed) September 18, 2021
Later during the day, multiple sources reported that the flag was taken down after Aziz spoke with the administration. Reporter Roohan Ahmed said he spoke with a police officer at Aabpara police station, who revealed that there was no new case registered against the cleric on the incident. Ahmed also posted an image which showed that there was no flag on the Jamia Hafsa building.
In an audio message, Lal Masjid's Maulana Abdul Aziz says they have removed Afghan Taliban's flags from Islamabad's Jamia Hafsa "for a few days" after talks with the administration.
— Roohan Ahmed (@Roohan_Ahmed) September 18, 2021
Media and communications practitioner Fahad Malik also posted a video after he visited the area to see if the flag was hoisted on Jamia Hafsa. The clip showed that the flag had been taken down.
Had to visit the place after your tweet. It is all clear, no flag. case is registered. Don't create panic. Maulana Abdul Aziz is schizophrenic patient & is being dealt with as an unstable person. He lost his son, mother,father & brother & he keeps on doing such stunts every month pic.twitter.com/yCqFTp0gE2
— Fahad Malik (@Fahad4014) September 18, 2021
Jamia Hafsa previously erected the Afghan Taliban flag on their building last month, just a few days after the latter took over Kabul on August 15. Authorities successfully removed the flag, and it was reported that students were behind the gesture, which was seen as a symbolic nod of approval for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Even though the flag has been taken down again, Twitter users drew a connection between Aziz’s brazen threat and the sudden departure of New Zealand’s cricket team a day ago, arguing that it was because of such incidents that no one considered Pakistan safe.
On Friday, the NZ cricket team, which was on tour in Pakistan, cited security reasons and unilaterally left Pakistan ahead of their match.
A user said it was no surprise that NZ refused to play.
Get reason Why New Zealand refused to play!!!! 🤔 https://t.co/ldVsXuX5E6
— Simon Jameel (@SimonJameel) September 18, 2021
Journalist Zebunnissa Burki also stated sarcastically that ‘Pakistan was safe’.
Pakistan is safe. 🤷♀️ https://t.co/4PrrE48Ft5
— Zebunnisa Burki (@zburki) September 18, 2021
Another user, filmmaker Assad Zulfiqar Malik, satirically wondered why anyone wouldn’t feel safe in Pakistan.
Why wouldn’t anyone feel safe in Pakistan? https://t.co/DgL1RSeAoW
— Assad Zulfiqar Khan (@pseudorebel) September 18, 2021
Economic analyst Karim Khan insisted that everyone assessed Aziz’s ‘body language’, which would make NZ’s hasty departure unshocking for the people.
Listen and Look at his body language and still we complain about NZ decision about cancelation their trip. https://t.co/NbYX4FpBc2
— Karim Khan (@karimeconomist) September 18, 2021
Lawyer Ayesha Ijaz Khan took the NZ connection a step further and said that NZ would have continued their tour if Pakistan had realized their homegrown threat, instead of labelling what happened in Afghanistan ‘America’s war’.
Instead of calling what happened in the past “America’s war,” if only Pakistan had recognised where the real problem lay, they could’ve been playing cricket with NZ today. https://t.co/CD9PSbRodp
— Ayesha Ijaz Khan (@ayeshaijazkhan) September 18, 2021
Some users took a trip down memory lane and recalled the cleric’s notorious history.
Writer Faizan Raza recalled that Maulana Aziz had launched a similar tirade against him and other protestors who demonstrated outside the mosque after the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) orchestrated the horrifying Army Public School massacre in 2014. Raza added that Aziz was asked to condemn the attack that killed 132 children, but he refused to do so.
Still remember the first night of protest outside lal masjid after APS where we were just a handful of people, & he came out to threaten us w similar arrogance. We asked him to condemn the attack, & he straight up refused and walked back in.
Horrifying how fast we're regressing. https://t.co/8bnaCF9Qwb
— Faizan. (@thoraoffbeat) September 18, 2021
One user said that authorities needed to act against fundamentalists like Aziz. He added that Aziz was a ‘nuisance’ who shouldn’t be allowed to hold the capital city hostage again.
It’s time for the state to arrest extremists like Maulana Abdul Aziz who are once again threatening law enforcement agencies with ‘dire consequences’ in the heart of Islamabad.
This cleric was always a nuisance and should be contained before he hijacks the capital again
— Hassan Khan (@mhassankhan06) September 18, 2021
Khan was referring to the 2007 Lal Masjid siege, in which an armed battle between Pakistan’s security forces and the seminary’s allegedly pro-Taliban students terrorized Islamabad for several days. The operation left more than 100 dead and around 250 injured.