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PAKISTANI FUNDAMENTALISTS BARE RAGE AT INVITATION TO 2 SUPERSTARS

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Proposals for Madonna and Michael Jackson to sing in Pakistan have outraged a powerful religious party, which threatens to respond with mass anti-government protests.

Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, the minister for cultural affairs, said he is trying to persuade the two pop superstars to take part in an entertainment extravaganza tentatively set for February in this conservative Muslim nation."We want to show the world that we are not a country of militant Islamic fundamentalists. We are an open society," Ahmed said Thursday. "We want a new image for the people of Pakistan."

But the Jamaat-e-Islami, or Party of Islam, has warned it will take its protests to the streets if Madonna and Jackson bring their shows to Pakistan.

"We will mobilize the people. The people will throw them (government) out," said Jamaat spokesman Khalid Rehman.

Although its numbers are small, Jamaat has mobilized street demonstrations that destabilized past civilian governments and forced the military to take control.

Ahmed was not concerned. "We don't care about their reaction," he said.