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Austin Cline

Pakistan: Extremists Attack Female Runners

By April 17, 2005

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Muslim extremists have struck again in Pakistan, this time attacking female runners who wanted to run a marathon with men. The women were dressed in heavy, concealing clothing rather than western-style running gear, but that didn't matter to the religious thugs.

The Guardian reports:

A week ago baton-wielding men threw petrol bombs and torched vehicles at a mini-marathon in Gujranwala, 135 miles south of Islamabad. The race - one of the first to allow female participation - ended with police firing tear gas and making more than 50 arrests. ... "This has got to stop," said a protester, Aisha Shaukat, outside parliament yesterday. "These mullahs want us to just stay home, have children and God knows what else." She stood before a placard that read: "The obscenity is in your mind."

Others handed out leaflets saying: "We the citizens condemn this Talibanisation". Newspaper columnists and other critics have made frequent comparisons between the social agenda of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a powerful alliance of Islamic political parties spearheading the rise of the religious right in Pakistan, and the Taliban. ... "It is a battle of ideas and the fundamentalists are winning," said Talat Masood, a retired army officer and political analyst. "They can get away with anything. The government has no spine." Zilla Huma, a woman parliamentarian who ran in the Gujranwala race, said the mob had been bussed in. "Local people condemned their actions," she said.

Pakistan really seems to be going down hill every time I turn around I see another story about extremists, thugs, and others attacking people because they fail to uphold a narrow vision of Islam. Is there any hope for this nation?

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