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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Muted protest over Pakistan raids
Protests in Islamabad
Protesters denounced Gen Musharraf and Western leaders
About 2,000 religious activists have attended protests in Pakistan against a crackdown on suspected extremists following the 7 July London bombings.

Rallies were held in Islamabad and other cities. Islamic parties who called the protests say their members have been arrested and want them freed.

Police have made 200 arrests this week, many in raids on religious schools.

On Thursday President Musharraf called for a holy war on extremists, but urged Britain to tackle its own militancy.

'Appeasing the West'

In Islamabad, about 1,000 protesters took to the streets. Activists denounced Gen Musharraf, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

In one incident, demonstrators set a police motorcycle alight, but correspondents say the rallies were on the whole muted.

Several hundred demonstrators turned out in Karachi, and there were similar-sized protests in Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.

Banned groups not allowed to operate under new names
No public displays of unauthorised weapons
Clampdown on inflammatory material, including audio, video tapes and their publishers and distributors
Militant groups not allowed to collect funds
Monitoring hate sermons from mosques
All madrassas registered by December 2005

Pakistan's six-party opposition Islamic alliance, the MMA, has been angered by the raids on madrassas, some of which are accused of links with militants.

"Our protest is against the raids being conducted on madrassas and mosques to appease the United States and the West," MMA spokesman Shahid Shamsi told Reuters.

Correspondents say the general public stayed away from Friday's rallies, which were being seen as an important indicator of how widespread anger at the crackdown is in Pakistan.

Police in Pakistan have yet to arrest anyone who has a direct link to the London bombings, in which 56 people were killed, four of them suicide bombers, security sources told the BBC.

At least two bombers, both Britons of Pakistani descent, visited Pakistan last year. The family of one said he visited a religious school, or madrassa.

Fight hatred and chaos

President Pervez Musharraf defended his crackdown in an address to the nation late on Thursday.

He said the London bombers "cannot be called human beings" and said Pakistan stood with the UK in fighting terror.

But he said that although three of the bombers may have been of Pakistani descent they had been born, bred and educated in England - and it was far from clear they had been indoctrinated in Pakistan.

President Musharraf
Musharraf said publication of all "hate material" would be banned

"There is a lot to be done by Pakistan and a lot to be done in England also," the president said.

He called on the Pakistani people to fight the spread of "hatred and chaos" in society, and said all religious schools would have to register with the state by December.

Banned militant groups would not be allowed to reorganise under new names, President Musharraf said.

During previous crackdowns in 2000 and 2002 banned groups re-emerged with new names.

This latest crackdown has seen arrests across Pakistan, and a number of publications said to be promoting religious extremism have been banned.

In Karachi, about 50 of those detained this week have now been released on bail. Fourteen, including a senior cleric, have been freed in the capital.

The intelligence establishment is insisting that a key British Muslim al-Qaeda suspect, Haroon Rashid Aswad, is not in Pakistani custody, our correspondent says.

An arrest in Punjab province is being described as significant, however, despite having no link with the London bombs.

Officials say they are holding a senior member of the banned Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who they accuse of masterminding sectarian attacks on Shias.


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