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April 2, 2005
Islamists Increasingly Irrelevant In Pakistan

Pakistan has long been considered one of the centers of radical Islam, from its madrassas to its early support for the Taliban and ties to al-Qaeda. However, more than three years after 9/11 and Pervez Musharraf's open opposition to Islamists -- and surviving two assassination attempts by them -- their appeal in Pakistan has waned almost to the point of non-existence, if the result of their latest call for a general strike gives any indication:

Pakistani police fired tear gas and used batons in on Saturday to disperse small groups of Islamists whose call for a nationwide general strike fizzled in most parts of the country.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) alliance of six Islamic opposition parties called the strike to demand that President Pervez Musharraf give up power.

Police in the eastern city of Lahore said they fired tear gas to disperse a group of activists who hurled stones at shops to try to force them to shut and observe the strike. ...

In the port city of Karachi and some other big cities such as Peshawar and Quetta, some shops were shut and traffic was light in the early morning, but most business operated as normal.

What a perfect snapshot of the Islamist movement this provides. Its failing fascism has driven support away, and instead of taking advantage of the rage that political oppression creates, the Islamists naturally turn to physical intimidation and coercion in order to get people to demonstrate on their behalf. As if that wasn't clueless enough, they claim that having 500 or so of their supporters arrested for their riotous actions shows the popular nature of their movement -- in a country of 160 million.

The fall of the Taliban and the rise of its democratic replacement showed the people of Southwest Asia the folly of supporting terrorists like Mullah Omar as leaders. Demonstrations such as those broken up by Musharraf simply reminds people what life under Islamofascism would be. Given the choice, people of all nations and creeds will choose freedom over oppression and tyranny, and the wave of democratization across the Middle East shows them that the choice really does exist, if they have the courage to make it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 2, 2005 8:42 AM

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