Jul 17, 2018

Religious supremacists campaign in Pakistan's election

Ramzan Mengal, the Balochistan chief of the ASWJ, has been seen leading crowds chanting slogans demonizing Shia Muslims as apostates. Photo: Asad Hashim/Al Jazeera

QUETTA — A far-right religious group that declares members of Islam's Shia sect to be heretics, and has been banned by Pakistan as a "terrorist" organization, is running 150 candidates for National Assembly in Pakistan's July 25 election.

The bigger picture: Pakistan's election has been chaotic, and the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ) is not the only group accused of links to armed groups taking part. But members of Quetta's Hazara community are not convinced that the ASWJ is disconnected from those who killed their family members.

  • Ramzan Mengal, the provincial chief of ASWJ and one of its candidates, tells Al Jazeera he has been allowed to campaign freely. ASWJ spokesperson Oneeb Farooqui says "all parties are coming to us to ask us for our support."
  • Hameeda Hazara, a Shia candidate, says it's "disappointing" that Mengal will be on the ballot: "For some it was shocking, but for me it was like despair."
  • For Agha Raza Hassan, a Hazara community leader, the ASWJ — and Mengal in particular — provide political and ideological cover for the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an armed group, to carry out the killings. "The political wing attempts to get into the parliament and protect those doing the killing," he says. "And then they have the ideological wing, in the form of seminaries, which gives them raw materials [for LeJ]."
  • Some have welcomed the ASWJ's involvement in politics, under what has been described by officials as a "mainstreaming" effort by the Pakistani state.

Go deeper: Read the full report on Al Jazeera.

Go deeper

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know so far

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Milwaukee Molson Coors brewery complex on Wednesday, including the shooter, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at an evening press conference with local police.

What's happening: Police said "there is no active threat" just before 6 pm ET, but noted the scene remains active. Police chief Alfonso Morales told reporters that officers have "more than 20 buildings we have to secure" at the complex and they do not currently have all employees accounted for, as more than 1,000 were at the complex during the shooting.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Live updates: CDC confirms possible community spread of coronavirus

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

U.S. clinicians have found the novel coronavirus in a person who did not recently return from a foreign country nor have contact with a confirmed case, the CDC said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 45 mins ago - Health

Trump assigns Pence to lead U.S. coronavirus response


President Trump announced at a press briefing Wednesday evening that he'll be putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of leading the administration's response to the coronavirus.

The big picture: In the wake of a market sell-off and warnings from health officials that there's a real threat of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S., Trump sought to reassure the nation and Wall Street that the U.S. is "ready" for whatever comes next.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy