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July 22, 2005
Rallies For Oppression Shockingly Disappoint

Islamists in Pakistan called for massive rallies against the Pervez Musharraf government after it rounded up hundreds of suspected terrorists while investigating the London bombings. The grassroots effort to support Taliban-style tyranny fell somewhat short of expectations:

An Islamist call for nationwide protests in Pakistan against a crackdown on militants after the July 7 London bombings fell flat on Friday with rallies in big cities failing to attract more than a few hundred people. ...

Up to 700 Islamists, most of them teenagers or in their 20s, chanted anti-Musharraf and anti-U.S. slogans at Islamabad's Lal or Red Mosque, which was raided by security forces searching for militants on Tuesday.

Some shouted slogans in support of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban government, which was overthrown by U.S.-led forces after the al Qaeda attacks on U.S. cities on Sept. 11, 2001.

The protesters pelted a police post with stones, destroyed lamp posts and set fire to a police motorcycle.

Seven hundred people? More people show up here at the opening of a Krispy Kreme donut shop. Calling for massive rallies always carries the risk of embarrassment if the numbers don't reach significant levels. Howell Raines found that out when his weeks-long jeremiad in the New York Times against the Masters tournament in Augusta only resulted in a few dozen protestors on the first day.

This failure to capture the Pakistani imagination could find an explanation in the autocratic nature of the Musharraf government. However, Pakistan has seen protests of far more significant scope that challenged his policies. This shows that the Islamists have lost tremendous credibility since the fall of the Taliban, a result reflected in an opinion poll released last week showing rapid erosion of Islamist popularity and growing interest in democratic rule among the peoples of Southwest Asia and North Africa.

It looks like Islamofascism may be returning to its previous state: the lunatic fringe, where it belongs.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 22, 2005 12:26 PM

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