21 Sep 2012

Deadly protests in Pakistan over anti-Islam film

At least 17 people are killed and dozens injured when protests by tens of thousands of Pakistanis, infuriated by an anti-Islam film, descend into deadly violence.

The government had declared Friday to be a national holiday – “Love for the Prophet Day” – but at least 17 people were killed and dozens injured.

In Karachi, armed protesters among a group of 15,000 fired on police, killing one and wounding another, said police officer Ahmad Hassan. Ten people are reported to have been killed in the city.

The crowd also burned two cinemas and a bank as well as several police vehicles.

Clashes between police and stone-throwing protesters also occurred in Lahore as police fired tear gas as well as warning shots in an attempt to keep them from advancing toward US missions.

Five people are also reported to have died in Peshawar.

The film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad has sparked unrest in many parts of the Muslim world over the past 10 days, and the deaths of at least 33 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been linked to the violence.

Click on the interactive map showing worldwide reaction to the anti-Prophet film:

Worldwide protests

Elsewhere thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Iraq’s southern city of Basra in a peaceful protest organised by Iranian-backed Shiite groups against the controversial film.

Caricatures of the prophet published earlier in the week in a French satirical weekly magazine have also angered the protesters.

Around three thousand people including members of the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Kata’ib Hezbollah group, tribal leaders and a group of students waved flags and raised posters of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Some of the protesters carried banners reading “Death to America. Death to Israel”

In Jakarta several dozen people gathered outside the American embassy.

The US closed its diplomatic missions in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country, on Friday due to demonstrations over the film.

The embassy in Jakarta was barricaded with barbed wire and anti-riot police and water cannon were deployed. No violence was reported.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the west of trying to cause “religious conflicts” as he criticised the film.

Speaking at a military parade commemorating the start of the Iraq-Iran war 32 years ago, Ahmadinejad claimed the west was hiding behind freedom of speech laws as it allowed insults to be launched at the Prophet.

“They (the West) are seeking to trigger ethnic and religious conflicts. They chant fake slogans of freedom, and claim commitment to freedom of thought and freedom of speech,” he said.