Geelani, Lawyers Hold Osama Prayers6 May 2011
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani led hundreds of people in funeral prayers for slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at Batamaloo in Srinagar on Friday. Nearby, a large gathering of lawyers and staff of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court offered prayers for bin Laden on the court’s premises. Top moderate leader Shabir Shah also led people in prayers at Sarai Bala, across from Lal Chowk. As Geelani, along with his supporters, marched through Batamaloo, people shouted pro-freedom, and anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. However, there were no pro-Osama slogans, as directed by Geelani. “When we protest against Osama’s death, it is against his sea burial and it is also in favour of his standing up to US single-handedly,” Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akber later told The Indian Express. Soon after Geelani left, a group of young men started pelting stones but were promptly chased away by police. Addressing the people before the prayers, Geelani condemned bin Laden’s burial at sea. “Osama is a martyr... He fought against the oppression of imperialist forces and laid down his life doing so,” he said.”Here is a man who gave up his life of comfort and luxury to fight for a larger cause of liberation of the Ummah from foreign occupation.” At the High Court, Kashmir Bar Association general secretary Advocate G N Shaheen praised Osama for resisting “US imperialism”. He, however, clarified that the Bar did not approve of his methods of resistance. There was speculation whether Geelani would be allowed to hold the prayers as the state government had placed him under house arrest. But the cordon around his house was lifted early in the morning. However, Geelani’s call to Imams across the valley to hold prayers for bin Laden barely got any response, the J&K Police said. “The funeral prayers in absentia were reported only from a very few places. The call evoked very little response as people generally ignored the call,” Deputy IGP Abdul Gani Mir said. This, perhaps, prompted Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to claim that Geelani was losing the feel for the pulse of his people. “One gets the feeling that he’s losing his touch on the pulse of the people; first panchayat elections and now the funeral prayers,” Omar tweeted.