AFP, BBC (UK), VOICE OF AMERICA (USA)
KARACHI – The death toll has reached at least 45, with 150 wounded from a powerful blast in a mainly Shiite Muslim area of Karachi. There are reports that the explosion was set off by Sunni terrorists, although by midday Monday no group had claimed responsibility for the attack in the city of 21 million, Pakistan's largest.
The device was triggered as worshippers were coming out of mosques in Abbas Town, a Shiite neighborhood after Sunday evening prayers.
Authorities and civilians were still digging through the rubble of the holy place and the two partially collapsed apartment blocks on Monday in the search for survivors, reports the BBC.
Pakistan’s largest city was almost completely frozen on Monday, as the local government announced three days of mourning: “There will be no public transport on the roads today,” said Karachi Transporters Association chief Irshad Bokari, quoted by AFP.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is one of the extremist Sunni groups suspected of orchestrating the attack, as they are responsible for a growing number of bombings over the past few years, noted the BBC.
The city and the country have been the theater of many violent ethnic clashes: last year, 2,284 people died due to political, religious and ethnic conflicts in the city alone, reports VOA news.
Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Praying inside a Dutch mosque.
Broken trust in Islamic community
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
- Islam Became A 'Problem' In France When Muslims Became French ... ›
- Interlaken, The New Swiss Mecca For Rich Muslim Tourists ... ›
- Austria, A Laboratory For Hard-Line Policies On Islam - Worldcrunch ›