Pakistan Islamists to hold protests against bin Laden raid

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PostThu May 05, 2011 1:40 pm » by Sid2011

Pakistan's most influential Islamist party urged its followers to hold mass protests on Friday to demand their government withdraw its support of the U.S. war on militancy after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of the country's biggest religious political parties, said the United States had violated the sovereignty of key ally Pakistan by sending its own forces into the garrison town of Abbottabad to kill the al Qaeda leader.

Pakistan's support is key to U.S. efforts to combat Islamist militants, and also to fighting against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

"Even if there was any sympathy for the Americans, that would dissipate after the way they crushed and violated our sovereignty and our independence," JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan told Reuters on Thursday.

"We have appealed to everyone to hold peaceful demonstrations on Friday on a very large scale," he said. "Our first demand is Pakistan ... should withdraw from the war on terror."

Anti-American sentiment runs high in Pakistan, despite billions of dollars in aid for the nuclear-armed, impoverished country. Pakistan's religious parties have not traditionally done well at the ballot box, but they wield considerable influence in a country where Islam is becoming more radicalized.

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