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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minorities protest ban on JuD

Minorities protest ban on JuD

Minorities protest restrictions on suspect charity

Updated at: 0800 PST, Wednesday, December 17, 2008
KARACHI: About 300 members of Hindu and Christian communities demonstrated in Pakistan in support of a Muslim charity accused of being a front for the militant group blamed for the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Most of the protesters Tuesday in Hyderabad, 110 miles (180kilometers) north of Karachi, were women from Sindh province's Thar Desert.

Bhai Chand, a Hindu community leader, said Pakistani government restrictions recently imposed on Jamaat-ud-Dawa threatened their livelihood because the charity has set up a network of water wells in the desert.

“The charity would always come to help us,'' Chand said. “I do not buy it that they are terrorists when they have always been helping us even though we are not Muslims.''

The protesters carried banners reading, “Are those who give shelter to the shelterless and those who give water to the thirsty terrorists?'' and “Do not ban our savior!''

The government acting after the United Nations declared the charity a terrorist group and a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people has shuttered all of its offices, arrested scores of activists and put its entire leadership under house arrest.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at U.N. headquarters in New York that she understands that “there are so-called charitable activities,'' but that the U.S. “learned the hard way, that sometimes these are too intertwined with organizations that have terrorist ties.''