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5,000 people rallied against Charlie Hebdo in Pakistan

19 January, 2015

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LAHORE/PESHAWAR: Around 5,000 people rallied against the controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo across the country in protest against the publication of blasphemous sketches by it. In Lahore the chief of banned Jamaatud Dawa urged protesters to boycott French products. Hafiz Saeed told protesters: “We will launch a movement against the insulting caricatures of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).” Charlie Hebdo published a blasphemous picture on its cover last week after two gunmen stormed its offices and killed 12 people for what they said was revenge for previous cartoons the magazine had published mocking Islam.

Saeed was addressing the “Hurmat-e-Rasool March” organised by Tehreek Hurmat-e-Rasool from Nasir Bagh to Masjid-e-Shooda, the Mall. Thousands of lawyers, students and members of civil society also participated in the historical march. About 2,000 volunteers of Jamaatud Dawa performed security duties at the march. Protesters, carrying placards and banners, showed their rage and chanted slogans against the United Nations and France and demanded death plenty for blasphemers.

Saeed urged traders to stop importing French products and for Pakistani leaders to try to get an international law against blasphemy passed. On Friday, protesters trying to storm the French consulate in Karachi, and shot and injured a photographer working for French news agency AFP. Saeed called for more rallies next Friday. In Peshawar the Christian community staged protests against Charlie Hebdo in solidarity with Muslims around the world and demanded that the cartoonists behind the blasphemous caricatures be brought to justice. Saeed said that United Nations should declare blasphemy terrorism and pass an intentional law against it.

The Christian community took out rallies from different churches in the provincial capital, including the All Saints Church, which was targeted in a bomb attack in September 2013. Holding placards and banners condemning the blasphemous sketches and cartoons, the protesters marched to Peshawar Press Club. The demonstrators also chanted slogans against the French government. The Christian community termed the blasphemous cartoons as serious threat to the religious harmony and world peace. Such sketches promote intolerance, hatred, violence and extremism, according to the protesters.

The demonstrators also urged the world community to take solid and concrete measures against such inciting steps. Heavily armed men shouting religious slogans stormed the headquarters of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 8 killing 12 people, including the editor-in-chief. The attack sparked global outrage as world leaders rallied in solidarity with the victims of the attack claimed by the Al Qaeda in Yemen. Demonstrations were also held in Afghanistan’s province of Uruzgan paying tribute to the attackers.

Protests against the fresh publication were held across Muslim countries. The protests turned violent in Niger where at least three churches were burnt down by a mob. A protest organised in Karachi on Friday also turned violent when a clash took place between protesters and police. Security forces resorted to aerial firing, tear gas and water cannons to push back the charged mob.

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