MOHAMMED SARFRAZ NAEEMI was a thorn in the Taliban’s side. A highly regarded Muslim cleric, Dr Naeemi condemned the Taliban’s suicide bombers and established an alliance of religious groups to campaign against them.Dr Naeemi, the principal of Jamia Naeemi madrassa in Lahore, advocated peace and accused the Taliban of being anti-Islam.But he was silenced by the very tactics he opposed.On June 12, soon after the busy Friday prayers, a teenage suicide bomber walked into the madrassa office where Dr Naeemi was sitting and detonated an explosive jacket packed with nails and ball bearings.Dr Naeemi, 62, was among five people killed in the blast.It was a brutal illustration of what it can cost to stand up to extremism in Pakistan.”My father stood for peace, he was devoted to Islam and to Pakistan,” said Dr Naeemi’s son, Raghib, who has taken over as principal of the madrassa. “It was a horrible thing to see.”Raghib Naeemi, 36, who like his father is from the Sufi-influenced Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, has vowed to continue preaching peace. “I am on the same path of my father.”To his surprise, admissions have increased since his father’s death. “Students are saying they want to go to the madrassa where Sarfraz was murdered.”But the madrassa now operates with extraordinary security. Before Friday afternoon prayers at Jamia Naeemia, the three roads leading to the entrance were barricaded by police who searched all those who attended.Members of Lahore’s elite anti-terrorism commando squad, who wear black shirts with “No Fear” written across their shoulder blades, were among the 35 heavily armed policemen guarding the madrassa and mosque compound. The security included a vehicle parked near the entrance with a mounted high-calibre machine-gun. Two police snipers patrolled the roofs.Despite the heavy security, about 1000 worshippers were at the main Friday afternoon worship at Jamia Naeemia. Dr Naeemi was laid to rest in the grounds of the seminary he led. Many of the worshippers paid their respects at his tomb on their way out.One of them was Usman Aslam Bajwa. Tears welled in his eyes as he stood near the white marble tomb decorated with a garland of saffron flowers and the Pakistan flag. “He was a brave man,” said Mr Bajwa. “He spoke out against the suicide bombers but in the end they got him.”Matt Wade
Nanjing Night Net

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