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Radical Islamic Cleric Issues Fatwa Against Pakistani Minister For Posing 'Obscenely'

The leader of a radical Islamic mosque in Pakistan has issued a religious decree against the tourism minister, saying she should be fired for posing in a photograph in an "obscene" manner.

The fatwa came after pictures were published in a local newspaper, showing Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar hugging a male paragliding instructor in France. Bakhtiar had taken part in a paragliding demonstration in Paris to raise money for victims of Pakistan's October 2005 earthquake.

The minister says she is not ashamed of what she did and that she is not afraid of anyone except God.

The decree is the first of its kind issued by leaders of Islamabad's Red Mosque, Lal Masjid.

On Friday, clerics announced the formation of an Islamic Sharia court and threatened suicide attacks if the government tried to stop them.

Pakistani Health Minister Shahnaz Sheikh, also a woman, says the court has no authority to issue a decree against anyone, and is misinterpreting Islam.

Last month, students from the mosque's Jamia Hafsa religious school or madrassa kidnapped the alleged owner of a brothel and three members of her family. They were released a day later.

Pakistan authorities have been at odds with the cleric and his followers at the mosque, which officials say was built illegally on public land.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.