School library named for Osama bin Laden though terror leader’s image slowly fades in Pakistan

Published: April 18, 2014

Maulana Abdul Aziz, head cleric of a Pakistani seminary, sits in a library named after slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Friday, April 18, 2014 in Islamabad, Pakistan. AP Photo/B.K. Bangash

MUNIR AHMED
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Most didn’t notice the new library at the Islamic seminary for girls near Pakistan’s capital, until locals saw the paper sign in Urdu posted on its wooden door: “Library of Osama bin Laden, the Martyr.”

Cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, a radical preacher who runs the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, wanted to honour the memory of the al-Qaida leader, killed in a May 2011 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his hiding place in Abbottabad, a garrison town about 125 kilometres (75 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad.

But while the library’s name has garnered attention across Pakistan, a country where public opinion remains strongly anti-American and religious students today still idolize the man behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks, his image increasingly has faded from public view in recent years. As Pakistan has seen thousands killed in its own war against its local Taliban, a public that once named its own children after the Saudi millionaire has grown increasingly angry with militant violence.

Pictures of bin Laden and stores bearing his name once dotted the countryside of Pakistan, where U.S. drone strikes against militants have grown increasingly unpopular over civilian casualties. Islamists held small rallies across Pakistan after the raid to denounce his killing, which embarrassed the country’s military for not detecting it. The slain al-Qaida chief is still regarded as a hero by most students at Islamic schools, or madrassas.

But this image spread as a symbol in part because at the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, many supported the Taliban there. But since there were no images of its leader, Mullah Omar, they adopted the bearded images of bin Laden instead.

As Pakistani authorities began arresting Taliban leaders and associates of bin Laden, the public grew increasingly scared about showing his image. Those that remained up slowly faded away in the sun or washed away in torrential, seasonal rains.

Aziz’s naming of the library is the first public remembrance of bin Laden in some time, capturing the attention of local media. For Aziz, bin Laden is an icon, the cleric’s spokesman Tehsin Ullah told The Associated Press on Friday.

“Aziz thinks that Osama bin Laden is a hero and he is a martyr and that is why he selected Osama bin Laden’s name for the library,” Ullah said.

The madrassas are an important aspect of education in the predominantly Muslim Pakistan, and tens of thousands of students study there. Most of the religious schools provide free food, tuition and even board for students who come from other parts of the country. Some also serve to radicalize youth to join militants. Aziz’s students have joined anti-American protests put on by the hard-line cleric.

Aziz is a prayer leader at Islamabad’s Red Mosque — a former militant hideout that the army on orders from then-President Pervez Musharraf raided in 2007. The raid killed dozens of extremists and others and unleashed a wave of retaliatory militant attacks across Pakistan.

Maulana Abdul Aziz, left, head cleric of a Pakistani seminary, talks to visitor in a library named after slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Friday, April 18, 2014 in Islamabad, Pakistan. AP Photo/B.K. Bangash

Aziz was arrested by police during the raid when he tried to escape wearing a burqa. Later freed, he began running a boy’s and girl’s school connected to the mosque.

The newly constructed, one-room library is located inside the school compound, next to a computer room and Aziz’s office. There were no visible books or portraits of bin Laden inside the library when Associated Press journalists visited Friday. Abdul Rehman, the school’s administrator, said it only will carry books about the teachings of Islam.

Rehman refused to discuss bin Laden, saying girls at the school also learned computer skills. However, Rehman stopped journalists from speaking to students, saying Islam doesn’t allow men who are not family members to interact with female students or teachers.

——

Associated Press writers Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, and Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.

11:08ET 18-04-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

Surrey BC transport

Surrey LRT plan passes key federal hurdle

ADRIAN MACNAIR SURREY NOW SURREY — A federal agency overseeing public-private infrastructure projects in Canada has given preliminary approval to Surrey’s application to help fund…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

Q producer who alleges Jian Ghomeshi threatened to ‘hate f—‘ her says she complained to boss in 2010

TOM BLACKWELL NATIONAL POST For a 27-year-old journalism-school graduate, it was the perfect job, helping build and produce a brand-new, national show on CBC Radio…
Continue Reading »

CIVIC ELECTIONS

A new mayor is coming to Surrey, but don’t forget about councillors

SFU prof stresses importance of electing councillors who will push for the Surrey you want AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — With incumbent Mayor Dianne…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey BC transport

Surrey LRT plan passes key federal hurdle

ADRIAN MACNAIR SURREY NOW SURREY — A federal agency overseeing public-private infrastructure projects in Canada has given preliminary approval to Surrey’s application to help fund…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

Q producer who alleges Jian Ghomeshi threatened to ‘hate f—‘ her says she complained to boss in 2010

TOM BLACKWELL NATIONAL POST For a 27-year-old journalism-school graduate, it was the perfect job, helping build and produce a brand-new, national show on CBC Radio…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Nov. 15

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Nov. 15: On this date: In 1280, German theologian and music theorist Albertus Magnus died. Magnus taught…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

health check

Parents of six-year-old girl ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes her to HIV

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier…
Continue Reading »

CBC-sexual behaviour-lawsuit

Jian Ghomeshi bails on Prince George appearance on Nov. 7

THE CANADIAN PRESS PRINCE GEORGE — Embattled former “Q” radio host Jian Ghomeshi has pulled out of a speaking engagement organized by the Prince George…
Continue Reading »

ghost marriage

11 held for digging women’s graves for ‘ghost marriages’

IANS/EFE Beijing – Chinese police have arrested 11 people for allegedly digging up dead women’s bodies from their graves to sell them for rituals known…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

‘Big Ears Teddy’ Twitter account posted Jian Ghomeshi abuse allegations six months ago

ISHMAEL N. DARO CANADA.COM In less than a week, Jian Ghomeshi has gone from one of the most well-known and beloved CBC personalities to an…
Continue Reading »

CIVIC ELECTIONS

Battleground Surrey: Which mayoral candidate can stop the carnage?

CASSIDY OLIVIER VANCOUVER DESI The streets leading to the Newton Arena are littered with debris from the previous night’s storm. Overflow from the downpour swiftly…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood movie Fireflies

Fireflies: Sincerely done; good looking film

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Fireflies”; Cast: Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur, Monica Dogra, Shivani Ghai, Aadya Bedi; Writer-Director: Sabal Singh Shekhawat; Rating: *** 1/2 Things…
Continue Reading »

Ismaili musicians - Aga Khan foundation

Salim-Sulaiman show underlines Vancouver’s rising Bollywood cachet

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI With big-time Bollywood composers Salim-Sulaiman set to kick off their North American tour at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday, it…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan

Burdwan blast: Shah Rukh Khan prays for better times for Bengal

IANS Kolkata – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, West Bengal’s brand ambassador, Wednesday expressed his unwillingness to talk about the terror blast in Burdwan, but…
Continue Reading »