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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

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against American workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Mapping repression in China's Xinjiang region

Data: © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A sweeping new report released today by an Australian research organization reveals new details about how the Chinese Communist Party — and specifically who within the party — is carrying out its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Uncovering the actual offices and individuals implementing the Chinese government's genocide and forced labor policies in Xinjiang can bring accountability and help international companies delink supply chains in compliance with U.S. and EU forced labor laws.

Report: U.S. Latinos near 50% homeownership rate

Real estate broker Alex Betances sits in front of a home in Reading, Pa. Photo: Ryan McFadden/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Image

Latinos increased their homeownership rate to nearly 50% in 2020, according to a report from a group monitoring U.S. Hispanic wealth creation.

Why it matters: The Hispanic Wealth Project found that the homeownership rate grew despite the lack of diversified financial assets among Latinos and around 15% who still live below the federal poverty line ($26,500 for a family of four).

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