Hundreds of people took to the streets near the Pakistani city of Quetta yesterday to pay homage to Osama bin Laden and call for holy war against the US, witnesses said.
The rally was organized by the pro-Taliban Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) political party in the Kuchlak suburb of the southwestern city, where the crowd shouted “Long Live Osama” and torched a US flag.
“Osama’s services for Muslims will be remembered forever,” said Abdul Qadir Looni, a senior JUI figure addressing the rally.
“He challenged the greatest Satan and usurper like America and awakened Muslims across the globe. This gathering pays tribute to him,” Looni said.
Hafiz Fazal Bareach, a former federal senator and senior party leader, said the US killing of bin Laden would create thousands of others like him.
“One Osama has been martyred and now thousands of Osamas will be born, because he created a movement against anti-Muslim forces which is not dependent on personalities,” Bareach said.
“America first martyred Osama and then desecrated his corpse,” he said, vowing that “jihad will continue against America and its allies.”
Pakistan’s largest religious political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, called for protests across the country yesterday to denounce the US operation that killed bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad earlier this week.
Pakistan on Thursday demanded that the US cut its troop presence in the country to a “minimum” as the fallout from the raid intensified and threatened to review cooperation in the event of another similar operation.
Meanwhile, Philippine police stopped a march yesterday on the US embassy by dozens of Muslims protesting the killing of bin Laden.
Officers used anti-riot shields to push back the marchers from Manila’s main mosque before they reached the boulevard leading to the seaside embassy compound after noon prayers. The protesters later dispersed peacefully.
Protest leader and Islamic cleric Alim Jamil Yahya says he condemns the “brutal killing” of bin Laden and describes the al-Qaeda founder’s burial at sea as a desecration of his body.
He said that although many Muslims did not agree with bin Laden’s methods, they still revered him as a martyr because he fought for freedom against oppression by “the satanic US hegemony.”
The group also expressed support for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and called for an end to the NATO bombings.
They carried a banner saying “Stop genocide in Libya! Let Muslims rule their own land. US allies: Stay out of Muslim lands.”
The Philippines is majority Roman Catholic, but has a sizable Muslim minority.
A Pakistani intelligence official says a Yemeni-born wife of Osama bin Laden has told them she had been living in the al-Qaeda chief’s final hideout for six years without leaving the upper floors of the house.
The woman is one of three wives of bin Laden being interrogated in Pakistan. Authorities are also holding eight or nine children found at the compound after the US raid.
Their accounts will show how bin Laden spent his time and could offer glimpses into the inner workings of al-Qaeda.
The official did not say yesterday whether the Yemeni wife has said that bin Laden was also living there since 2006. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name to the media.