Source AP ©

Religious students occupy Red Mosque in Pakistan

Two weeks after a bloody army siege that left over 100 dead, hundreds of religious students occupied Islamabad's Red mosque on Friday. They demand the return of its pro-Taliban cleric.

Security forces stood by as protesters clambered onto the roof of the mosque and daubed red paint on the walls after forcing a government-appointed cleric assigned to lead Friday prayers to retreat.

The protesters demanded the return of the mosque's pro-Taliban former chief cleric, Abdul Aziz - who is currently in government detention - to lead the prayers, and shouted slogans against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

"Musharraf is a dog! He is worse than a dog! He should resign!" students shouted. Some lingered over the ruins of a neighboring seminary that was demolished by authorities this week. Militants had used the seminary to resist government forces involved in siege.

In an act of defiance to authorities' repainting of the mosque this week in pale yellow, protesters wrote "Lal Masjid" or "Red Mosque" in large Urdu script on the dome of the mosque. They also rose a black flag with two crossed swords - meant to symbolize jihad, or holy war.

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