Maulana Abdul Aziz’s relatives barred from holding press conference at Lal Masjid

  • Mr Aziz’ nephew Haroon Rashid wanted to address media regarding alleged disappearance of family members
  • Assistant commissioner Islamabad, Saad Asad entered the mosque and told media that the presser had been called off

ISLAMABAD – The relatives of deposed Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz were not allowed to hold a press conference on Thursday by the capital administration.

Aziz’s relatives had to address a press conference on alleged enforced disappearances of their family members at 3pm, however, a large contingent of Islamabad police arrived at the mosque and closed off the main entrance.

Newsmen who had entered the mosque prior to the arrival of the police remained inside the mosque’s courtyard for half an hour, while those outside attempted to persuade the police to let them in.

“This is a mosque and not a political area,” the police official posted at the spot said, adding: “Besides, there is no one inside the mosque for the briefing, as the maulana and his wife have not arrived.”

On the occasion, Mr Aziz’s nephew Haroon Rashid, took aim at the police for taking charge of the mosque gates and termed the move a violation of human rights.

“Mosques are also the community centres of Muslims, not allowing media persons to enter the mosque is a violation of freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Maulana’s sisters wanted the address the media – what is the threat in that?” he advocated.

The police officer suggested that Mr Haroon address the media on the road in front of the mosque.

“Why not call maulana sahib and hold a briefing on the road? You have been doing it earlier too, so why not today,” the police officer, standing by the gate, asked Mr Haroon.

While their exchange continued, some newsmen demanded the police let them into the mosque so they could pray.

Amidst the arguments, the new assistant commissioner city, Saad Asad, entered the mosque and after a brief discussion with Mr Haroon, he directed the media to leave the premises and directed the police to let the faithful in to pray.

Later, Assistant Commissioner Asad came out to tell the media the press conference had been called off and the grievances of the family had been registered.

Meanwhile, one police official told the press that Mr Aziz’s family should adopt the course of law, for the alleged disappearance of their relatives.

“There are three forums and they approached none of them. First is to lodge a complaint at the relevant police station; they can also approach the courts and there is the national commission on missing persons,” he said, adding: “Creating a fuss is not the best option.”

A spokesperson for Mr Aziz acknowledged that none of the aforementioned forums had been approached, but added that they would file an application with the Supreme Court, Dawn News reported.

Moreover, a statement issued by the Shohda Foundation decried the police and Islamabad Capital Territory administration’s actions.

The statement blamed state agencies for enforced disappearances of people affiliated with Lal Mashid, Jamia Hafsa, and Mr Aziz’ relatives.