|Protesters march towards US consulates in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar|
18 September 2012
ISLAMABAD: Violent protests against the anti-Islam film continued across the country on Monday as demonstrators marched towards the US consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, and two protesters were killed in Upper Dir.
The police baton-charged and fired teargas shells to disperse charged crowds, who also burnt US flags and chanted slogans.Two persons were killed and two others injured when the police in Upper Dir allegedly opened fire at the protesters. The angry protesters, which included students, set on fire the local Press Club after they alleged that journalists were refusing to cover the rally.
The situation turned violent after the killing of a protester, identified as Muhammad, who was a vendor. The provoked protesters also torched government offices and vehicles.Eyewitness said the police arrested some students after they torched the Press Club. Demonstrators then shifted their protest to outside the police station and pelted stones at the building. They said the police fired on protesters, killing one person and injuring three others. One of the injured, who was a student, later expired at the hospital.
However, a journalist from Wari who requested anonymity said journalists had not refused to cover the rally. “How can we do that? It’s our job and this is the age of competition. We cannot afford missing a story,” he said by phone. The journalist said several journalists sustained injuries in the protests, adding that the protesters would have killed them if they had not been shifted to a safer place. The journalist said someone misinformed the students that journalists were not present to cover the rally. “They marched to the Press Club and then set it on fire. I think someone instigated them to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, the district coordination officer in a communiqué said educational institutions would remain closed for three days. In Lahore, protesters of the Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslemin (MWM) tried to reach the US consulate to hand over a memorandum, but the police dispersed them.
The protesters mainly comprising youth and women clashed with the police for over one hour, raising slogans against the US and Zionists, and braving baton-charge and tear-gassing. A few youth even crossed over several fences lined with barbed wires and iron barricades on Empress Road to reach a few yards away from the consulate building. They pulled down a US flag hoisted on a kiosk and brought it back to the main cordon of police amidst policemen chasing them and beating them with batons. There they set fire to the US flag as a mark of triumph and ended their protest.
The slogan chanting protesters then staged a sit-in for nearly one hour before they dispersed peacefully. Several protesters received injuries from the baton-charge. The protesters also set ablaze the US and Israeli flags following the protest outside the Lahore Press Club.
MWM Punjab General Secretary Abdul Khaliq Asadi, while addressing the charged protesters, warned the rulers against stooping so low in their US slavery and forgetting how to protect the honour of the Prophet (PBUH) and shoot and killing their own citizens protesting against blasphemy.
Asadi demanded that the rulers shun US slavery and sever ties with Washington and expel all US diplomats and other officials. He also condemned the Sindh government for shooting down MWM protesters outside the US consulate in Karachi and wounding several others, alleging “the Sindh government proved beyond any doubt that they were working to protect US interests and were more loyal to Washington than to the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.
In Karachi, police fired in the air to disperse a crowd headed towards the US consulate to protest against the blasphemous film. A senior police official said 30 students were arrested at the demonstration organised by the Islami Jamiat Talaba. Protesters on motorcycles and in cars headed towards the US consulate, prompting police to open fire in the air and use teargas.
Protesters threw rocks at the police and damaged one of their vehicles. Around 100 people roamed the roads and alleys near the sprawling consulate. Members of different political parties, student organisations and trade bodies also protested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the provincial capital, the activists of Islami Jamiat Talaba held a protest procession from the Agricultural University. They blocked the main Jamrud Road by staging a sit-in.
Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamaat-e-Islami, traders and members of Printers and Publishers Association staged separate protest rallies in the city.
The Insaf Students Federation, Muslim Students Federation and Afridi Students Union organised rallies outside the Peshawar Press Club.
Rallies and protests were also reported from other cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Bisham, Shangla, Kohistan, Nowshera, Mingora, Charsadda, Chakdarra, Takht Bhai, and Mansehra.
Separately, lawyers across the country boycotted court proceedings and held rallies. The call of the strike was given by the Pakistan Bar Council. A large numbers of lawyers gathered at bar rooms and passed unanimous resolutions against the blasphemous film.
The Lahore Bar Association as per directions of PBC announced that the copy of the resolution will be sent to the United Nations secretary general, the US embassy and the President of Pakistan.
Lawyers in Rawalpindi stayed away from court proceeding at all levels, including the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench, district courts. The High Court Bar Association Rawalpindi, the District Bar Association and Tehsil Bar Associations held special meetings and condemned the blasphemous movie.
Lawyers in Karachi, Peshawar, and other cities also boycotted court proceedings and passed resolutions to condemn the blasphemous film.
Meanwhile, Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chairman Sahibzada Fazal Karim announced countrywide protests against the sacrilegious film on Friday.
Talking to reporters at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, he said the Muslim Ummah should unite against the nefarious designs plotted against Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Canada, in the meanwhile, closed its mission in Egypt, Libya and Sudan. Separately, protesters in Afghanistan and Indonesia burnt US flags and chanted ‘Death to America’ on Monday in renewed demonstrations over anti-Islam film.
Indonesian police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who massed outside the US Embassy in Jakarta.
In Kabul, thousands of protesters took to the streets, setting fire to cars and shops and throwing stones at police. The demonstrations were the latest across the world provoked by the blasphemous film.
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