Pakistan: Music CDs burned in the streets of Islamabad



Music CDs burned in the streets of Islamabad

Students of a religious seminary burnt music CDs, video recorders and tv-sets worth 1.5 million rupees (app. 25,000 US dollars) in the federal capital of Pakistan on Friday 6 April 2007. They also issued warnings to the owners of music centres to close down their ‘un-Islamic’ businesses within one month

By Marvaiz Khan, Freemuse’s correspondent reporting from Islamabad

Maulana Abdul Aziz, the administrator (Khateeb) of Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque in central Islamabad, has launched a Taliban style campaign of preaching virtue and discouraging vice in the federal capital. The drive which is supported by more than six thousands head-covered male and burqa-clad female students of Jamia Hafsa (The religious seminary) has the agenda of “cleansing” the society of everything un-Islamic.

It was the first day of the three-day conference entitled “Enforcement of Shariah and glory of Jihad”. Maulana Abdul Aziz addressed about 3,000 people, threatening with suicide attacks if the Pakistani government raided the religious seminary or would take any action against the students.

He demanded that brothels, music centres and video shops must be closed within a month, otherwise the students would devise their own strategy to shut them down.

On the same occasion he announced the setting up of a Sharia court within the premises of the religious seminary. The Sharia court would consist of ten clerics who would issue fatwas, religious decrees.

Threats to shop owners

Students of the religious seminary were visiting different markets in the area, telling the owners of music centres to shut down their business and obey the principles of Islam. The shop owners were given threats of direct consequences in case they did not abide by the directives to close their businesses. They have even been offered financial inducements for starting new businesses replacing their current ‘immoral’ activities.

On Friday after the Juma congregation seminary, students set fire to a pile of hundreds of CDs, DVDs, video cassettes, and video players on a road outside the mosque. Burqa-clad students gathered on the roof of a religious school to watch the burning of Pakistani, Indian and English CDs and DVDs they deemed offensive. In the evening, dozens of students gathered in front of the mosque around the smoldering heap of CDs and DVDs.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Maulana Abdul Aziz’s brother and the vice principal of Jamia Hafsa, said the DVDs were all pornography and against the values of Islam.

The CDs and videocassettes were surrendered voluntarily by one of the shop owners of Aabpara Market.

Shops refuse to close

Muhammad Younis, owner of Bilal Video Centre, told journalists that he does not have any repentance to give up his business, nor has he been pressured by anybody:

“I lead my business on my own free will, and I serve my life in light of the golden principles of Islam”, he stated. He also denied receiving any compensation from the administration of Lal Masjid.

News reports of bomb attacks on music centres in some cities of north-west Pakistan and adjoining tribal areas has regularly appeared in the national press over the past few months but the recent strength shown by religious students, and their action against music, has sent new signals of fear and persecution to people related with music business.

Own brand of Islam

Asad Qamar, owner of Sahar Music Centre, told Freemuse that he is totally confused over the situation which is evolving in the country and particularly in the federal capital:

“It is not a good sign that different groups are challenging the government on the pretext of promoting Islam. People related to music business are feeling very insecure and shocked over the recent threats and incidents of bomb attacks on music shops in different parts of the country,” he said.

It merits a mention here that a few days back the baton-laden, burqa-clad female students of Jamia Hafsa kidnapped security officials and three women for allegedly running a brothel.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, while talking to journalists, said that no one would be allowed to challenge the government authority and enforce their own brand of Islam.

Emotionally charged religious youth screamed slogans against perceived immorality as they burned a pile of music CDs, cassettes and DVDs in the streets of Pakistan’s capital on 6 April 2007

Resources on the internet

Google News – updated continously:
Search ‘students+islamabad+sharia+music’ – 7 April 2007:

‘Radical cleric sets up vigilante sharia law court in Pakistan’s capital’

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