'Radicals wanted Woolmer dead'

2007-04-30 22:48
Cape Town - Allegations that radical Muslims wanted to carry out a fatwa that was issued against Bob Woolmer, were widely reported on Monday while his heart-sore family were making arrangements to bury the Pakistan coach this week.

A participant in the BBC programme, Panorama, claimed on Monday night that aggrieved radical Muslims were intent on carrying out a fatwa on Woolmer. Sheikh Abduragmaan Alexander of the Bridgetown Mosque, while he did not want to comment on anything specific, explained that a fatwa was a religious decision taken by the learned leaders of Islam.

Other sources said it could amount to a death sentence, in certain instances.

'More praying than playing'

It was reported from London that the media manager of the Pakistan cricket team, Pervez Jamil Mir, told Panorama that he suspected a fatwa had been issued against Woolmer.

He reportedly shared Woolmer's view that certain senior members of the Pakistan team were more interested in praying, than in playing cricket.

Mir had to flee Pakistan after a fatwa was issued against him.

It followed his report to the cricket board that the team's obsession with religion may have been responsible for its poor performance in the Cricket World Cup.

"Let's put it this way: If Bob said what I'm saying now, then I think there was a fatwa against him, too."

He added: "What I mean is that Bob had reservations about men who were focused on the religious aspect rather than cricket."

"He was especially unimpressed if players prayed during a match when substitutes were sent on to the field."

"It went on, (but) he was totally opposed to it," said Mir.

The programme suggested that some of the players were involved with a radical Muslim movement, called Tablighi Jamaat.

Inzaman-ul-Haq, who resigned his captaincy when Pakistan suffered a shock defeat against Ireland, rejected the allegations.

He said in a television interview in Pakistan that if there wasn't a cricket game in progress, the players did pray.

He took a sideswipe against Mir, saying "P J Mir tried to besmirch our religion, Islam. The Pakistan Cricket Board should act against him.

"If that doesn't happen, I will institute legal steps against him in terms of Islamic law."

Respected the religions of others

Gareth Pyne-James, who is acting as a spokesperson for the Woolmer family, also rejected Mir's allegations of a fatwa.

He said from Nelspruit that Woolmer was not that kind of person: "Bob respected the religions of other people."

He did not want to give any details of the funeral arrangements for Woolmer: "It's a private family matter."

Die Burger heard from a reliable source that the funeral service would definitely take place this week.

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