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Cleric's arrest sparks protest

Cleric's arrest sparks protest

Aug 23, 2010 - 16:23

<!--break--><p>CHARIKAR (PAN): Hundreds of people on Monday staged a protest against the arrest of a religious school administrator by intelligence officials in the Bagram district of central Parwan province.</p><p>Nearly 600 protestors, coming from the Ghulam Ali area at 8am, blocked the Bagram-Mahmood Raqi highway. Students of the Hazrat Bilal Madrassa gave the call for the protest.</p><p>Afghan intelligence operatives arrested Qari Muhammad Kazim two days ago, said the protestors, who chanted 'death to the National Directorate of Security, the district chief and America'. The demonstrators blocked the road with heavy stones.</p><p>Qari Mohibullah, a 12th grade student at the madrassa, said intelligence officials arrested Kazim on Saturday. He added they had waited for two days for Kazim's release, but he remained in detention.</p><p>He said no reason had been assigned for the arrest of Kazim. "Today we have run out of patience and have taken to the streets."</p><p>Another participant of the protest, Qari Mehraban, an eighth-class student, alleged religious scholars were being arrested and insulted in Bagram on different pretexts.</p><p>A resident of the Ghulam Ali village, Noor Agha who took part in the protest, said Qari Kazim led a madrassa where 500 students were receiving Islamic education, including memorisation of the Holy Quran.</p><p>He said Kazim was a pious person and people of the area had a great respect for him.</p><p>The protestors vowed to continue demonstrations and road blockades until Kazim was freed.</p><p>Head of Bagram Ulema Council, Maulvi Ahmad Shah who did not participate in the demonstration, claimed Kazim had been arrested without any reason.</p><p>He said the government had also held three others religious scholars over the past three months in Bagram. He said the arrest of ulema was a conspiracy.</p><p>When asked why he did not participate in the protest, Shah replied the protestors had stones and sticks in their hands.</p><p>Parwan Governor Abdul Basir Salangi defended the NDS action, saying the spy agency did not arrest people without any reason. "Investigations and evidence prove Kazim is involved in terrorist attacks."</p><p>ma/mud</p>