Millennium Post

Protests swell, security tightened in Pakistan

Protests swell, security tightened in Pakistan
Violence flared up in Pakistan on the day of protest against an anti-Islam film on Friday, with a man dying after being hit by a bullet allegedly fired by police as angry demonstrators chanted slogans against the US and set ablaze two cinema halls in Peshawar.

In Peshawar, two cinema halls were burnt by the protesters, including one near Jinnah Park where a mob of hundreds broke the gate of the building and vandalised it before setting it on fire. The local chamber of commerce was too set ablaze by the angry demonstrators.

The mob also damaged several nearby shops before police fired in the air and used teargas to disperse the protesters.

Footage on TV clearly showed that some of the protesters too were armed and had fired during clashes with police.

An employee of a private TV news channel died after he was hit by a bullet outside one of the cinema halls vandalised by the protesters. ARY news channel reported that its employee Mohammed Amir was struck in the chest by a bullet fired by police and died later in hospital.

The news channel beamed footage of doctors at a hospital in Peshawar trying desperately to save Amir. On the outskirts of Rawalpindi near here, a toll plaza and several vehicles were burnt by protesters.

Thousands of people joined protests across Rawalpindi, blocking roads and lobbing stones at cars. In Lahore, protesters blocked the Circular Road by burning tyres and shouted slogans against the US. There were reports of violence during intermittent protests in the port city of Karachi.

The number of protesters on the streets is expected to swell after the weekly Friday prayers.

Life across Pakistan came to a standstill in the morning due to a holiday declared by the government to protest the anti-Islam film. The government is observing the day as Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool or Love the Prophet Day.

Addressing a Love the Prophet conference at the heavily -fortified Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Ashraf called on the people to protest peacefully without causing harm to life or property. At the same time, he warned that Muslims would not tolerate any attempt to defame the Prophet Mohammed.

‘The anger, anguish and hurt is even more deep after the discovery that this (the anti-Islam film) was a deliberate, premeditated act of mischief mongers based on bias, hatred and prejudice.’ The anti-Islam film, Ashraf contended, was ‘not about freedom of expression.’

Sources said the mobile services were suspended till 6 pm this evening on the orders of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ensure that mobile phones were not used for any terrorist activities.

The authorities had resorted to a similar measure during the recent Eid-ul-Fitr festival.

Educational institutions, banks, government and private offices and markets across the country remained closed.

There was no public or private transport on the roads and CNG stations and petrol pumps too were shut. Roads leading to Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave and US consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar were blocked with shipping containers.

Additional security forces were deployed in most cities and authorities were on high alert. In Lahore, an additional 15,000 police were patrolling the streets and authorities advised foreigners to stay at home.

In Peshawar, security was tightened for offices of foreign organisations and NGOs.

Yesterday, close to 100 protesters and policemen were injured, some of them seriously, during the protest outside Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave.

The protesters clashed repeatedly with riot police, who were unable to disperse the mob despite using batons, teargas and rubber bullets.


US ENVOY SUMMONED

Pakistan on Friday summoned the acting American envoy to lodge a ‘strong protest’ against an anti-Islam film and demanded that the US government take immediate steps to remove the ‘blasphemous’ video from YouTube. ‘The US Charge D’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland was summoned today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong protest was lodged with him over the blasphemous video posted on YouTube attacking the personage of the Holy Prophet Mohammed,’ said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry. Hoagland was told that the ‘US Government should immediately take measures to remove the sacrilegious video from YouTube and take action against its author’.


‘CLIP WON’T BE REMOVED’

An actress who appeared in an anti-Muslim film trailer that sparked violence in the Middle East has lost her legal challenge to have the 14-minute trailer taken down from YouTube. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin rejected the request from Cindy Lee Garcia yesterday because she wasn’t able to produce any agreement she had with the makers of ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and the man behind the film hadn’t been served with a copy of her lawsuit.  Garcia’s attorney, Cris Armenta, told reporters that her client plans to return to court in three weeks with more evidence to bolster her case. The video posted to YouTube has been linked to protests in Middle East.
Agencies

Agencies

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