Funny in a set-up/punchline kind of way. Musharraf’s hands are tied by the ol’ moderate/extremist whipsaw: the logical thing to do would be to demolish the mosque and deprive the jihadis of a rallying point, but if he does that then the local non-jihadists will be outrageously outraged by his blasphemy. He’ll have to install a permanent security cordon around the complex instead, thereby forcing the jihadis to go seize another mosque so that the whole stupid process can repeat.
It’s a test of wills. And the first test is to see what color the building’s roof ends up as.
A chaotic situation unfolded on the streets outside the mosque complex Friday, with an angry crowd of hundreds watching as young men climbed onto the roof to chant jihadist slogans and repaint parts of the building red, after the government had painted it a soft yellow. The men also hung the Red Mosque’s old, signature black flags from the building’s minarets, and threatened to take over a nearby market.
Earlier, a group of extremist activists had blocked a cleric recently appointed by the government to lead the mosque from delivering his Friday sermon–traditionally the focal point of the Muslim holy day.
Instead, the group demanded the return of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the mosque’s former leader, who was arrested while trying to flee the compound dressed in a burqa in the first days of the siege. Aziz’s younger brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was the mosque’s deputy leader, was killed during the commando raid…
Security forces initially appeared to be keeping their distance from the mosque on Friday. But armored personnel carriers later moved in, and troops began firing tear gas cannisters in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
At least one bomb has already gone off a quarter-mile away. 4 dead, 30 wounded. Here’s some video I found on LiveLeak of some of the mosque’s most loyal patrons discussing their plans for the future. They skew even younger than this, if you can believe it.
Update: They came to play. I wonder how old the bomber was.