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Part 1I

But in Karachi, Farooqi and his thousands of followers project a new aura of confidence. Crowds of angry men chant "Shia infidel! Shia infidel" at rallies and burn effigies while clerics pour scorn on the sect from mosque loudspeakers after Friday prayers. A rash of graffiti hails Farooqi as a savior.
Over glasses of milky tea, he explained that his goal was to convince the government to declare Shi'ites non-Muslims, as it did to the Ahmadiyya sect in 1974, as a first step towards ostracizing the community and banning a number of their books.
"When someone is socially boycotted, he becomes disappointed and isolated. He realizes that his beliefs are not right, that people hate him," Farooqi said. "What I'm saying is that killing them is not the solution. Let's talk, let's debate and convince people that they are wrong."
Not far from Farooqi's seminary, in the winding lanes of the rough-and-tumble Malir quarter, Shi'ite leaders are kindling an awakening of their own.
A gleaming metallic chandelier dangles from the mirrored archway of a half-completed mosque rising near the modest offices of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslemeen - known as MWM - a vocal Shi'ite party that has emerged to challenge Farooqi's ascent.
In an upstairs room, Ejaz Hussain Bahashti, an MWM leader clad in a white turban and black cloak, exhorts a gaggle of women activists to persuade their neighbors to join the cause.
Seated beneath a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shi'ite cleric who led the 1979 Iranian revolution, Bahashti said his organization would not succumb to what he sees as a plan by LeJ to provoke sectarian conflict.
"In our sect, if we are being killed we are not supposed to carry out reprisal attacks," he told Reuters. "If we decided to take up arms, then no part of the country would be spared from terrorism - but it's forbidden."
The MWM played a big role in sit-ins that paralyzed parts of Karachi and dozens of other towns to protest against the Quetta bombings - the biggest Shi'ite demonstrations in years. But police suspect that some in the sect have chosen a less peaceful path.
Detectives believe the small Shi'ite Mehdi Force group, comprised of about 20 active members in Karachi, is behind several of the attacks on Deobandi clerics and their followers.
The underground network is led by a hardened militant codenamed "Shaheed", or martyr, who recruits eager but unseasoned middle-class volunteers who compensate for their lack of numbers by stalking high-profile targets.
"They don't have a background in terrorism, but after the Shia killings started they joined the group and they tried to settle the score," said Superintendent of Police Raja Umar Khattab. "They kill clerics."
In November, suspected Mehdi Force gunmen opened fire at a tea shop near the Ahsan-ul-Uloom seminary, where Farooqi has a following, killing six students. A scholar from the madrasa was shot dead the next month, another student killed in January.
"It was definitely a reaction, Shias have never gone on the offensive on their own," said Deputy Inspector-General Shahid Hayat.
According to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, a Karachi residents' group, some 68 members of Farooqi's Ahle Sunnat wal Jama'at and 85 Shi'ites were killed in the city from early September to February 19.
Police caution that it can be difficult to discern who is killing who in a vast metropolis where an array of political factions and gangs are vying for influence. A suspect has yet to be named, for example, in the slaying of two Deobandi clerics and a student in January whose killer was caught on CCTV firing at point blank range then fleeing on a motorbike.
Some in Karachi question whether well-connected Shi'ites within the city's dominant political party, the Muttahida Quami Movement, which commands a formidable force of gunmen, may have had a hand in some of the more sophisticated attacks, or whether rival Sunni factions may also be involved.
Despite the growing body count, Karachi can still draw on a store of tolerance. Some Sunnis made a point of attending the Shi'ite protests - a reminder that Farooqi's adherents are themselves a minority. Yet as Karachi's murder rate sets new records, the dynamics that have kept the city's conflicts within limits are being tested.
In the headquarters of an ambulance service founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi, once nominated for a Nobel Prize for devoting his life to Karachi's poor, controllers are busier than ever dispatching crews to ferry shooting victims to the morgue.
"The best religion of all is humanity," said Edhi, who is in his 80s, surveying the chaotic parade of street life from a chair on the pavement outside. "If religion doesn't have humanity, then it is useless."-Reuters (Concluded)