Anti-Islam film: Protesters clash with police outside US Consulate

Published: September 17, 2012

Protesters gather outside the US Consulate during a rally in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI / HYDERABAD: At least two men were critically injured on Sunday when infuriated protesters numbering around 1,000 demonstrated against the anti-Islam movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and clashed with police outside the US Consulate in Karachi, sparking sporadic violence across the city.

A bullet hit Ali Raza Taqvi in the face and Komail Ali was shot in the back when a group of young men who were part of a rally taken out by Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) broke through a security cordon and reached the outer walls of the heavily fortified consulate.

It could not be immediately confirmed if the injured were shot at by the police. But eyewitnesses told The Express Tribune that Taqvi was arguing with a policeman on duty outside the consulate before he was hit.

When some protesters managed to get past the police cordon, security officials started firing shots in the air. “Burn the flag, burn it,” shouted a young demonstrator as he pointed to the US
flag visible from inside the consulate’s premises.

Hundreds of people, many belonging to the Imamia Students Organization (ISO) joined the rally. Some of them were armed.

An MWM spokesperson blamed the US consul general’s security for the incidents of violence. “A case should be registered against the consul general,” he said, demanding that the government expel American diplomats from the country.

He said the rally was peaceful and participants wanted to hand over a memorandum at the gate of the consulate, “but the police baton-charged us. They used teargas and fired shots.”

On the ground, however, the rally was not as peaceful as claimed. Protesters torched a police traffic post and hurled stones at the police. As police resorted to aerial firing, young men hit back with Molotov cocktails.

Richard Silver, a US consulate spokesperson, insisted that no shots were fired from within the premises. “It’s really unfortunate that the protest turned violent. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the US government has nothing to do with the video,” he said.

No one from the police including its Karachi chief Iqbal Mehmood and SSP West Amir Farooqi were available for comments. Television channels quoted Mehmood as saying that more than 40 policemen were injured in the clash.

It remains unclear why the rally was allowed to reach a point just meters away from the consulate gates and just two dozen policemen were stationed to stop a crowd of almost a thousand people.

By late Sunday night, a rumour spread that one of the injured had died, and soon after armed men took to the streets, setting vehicles on fire. Till the filing of this report, four police vans had been torched, and a bus and a petrol pump were partially burned.

In Hyderabad, the Christian community became the target of enraged mobs protesting against the film. As rallies turned violent, armed demonstrators fired at St Xavier’s church, resulting in Amir Maseeh, a 25-year-old who was dropping his mother to church, being injured. The church’s windowpanes also broke as a result of the firing.

In another rally-related incident, Lal Khan Solangi, 34 years old, was sitting in his shop when he was hit by a bullet in the head and declared dead on reaching the hospital. Earlier, leaders of the Christian Community and Hindu Panchayat along with Jamaat-i-Islami leaders addressed a rally outside the press club.

In Lahore, the Christian community  staged a rally against the release of the film and demanded action against those responsible.

In Bahawalpur, former religious affair minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi said that the main object of the film was to label Muslims as terrorists. He appealed to the nation to control their emotions so that ‘our enemies would not succeed in their plans’.

In Quetta, the Balochistan chapter of Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) staged a demonstration against the film as well as the target killings of labourers in the Dasht area of Mastung on Sunday.

In Rawalpindi, supporters of Sunni Tehreek and Anjuman Talaba Islam registered their protest outside the local press club.  Protesters set effigies of US President Barack Obama, film producer Sam Bacile and American flags on fire.

Protests also continued in the rest of the Muslim world. Washington ordered all non-essential staff to leave Tunisia and Sudan after its embassies were stormed as al Qaeda called for more attacks on US targets.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS IN BAHAWALPUR, RAWALPINDI, QUETTA AND LAHORE AND AFP

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.

Reader Comments (12)

  • Farrukh
    Sep 17, 2012 - 7:56AM

    We Christians of Pakistan Condem in the strongest possible words, pethatic and offensive work done by one of the Americans. He should be punished harshly for it. But it has nothing to do with the Christians in Pakistan. Why the church was under attack in Hyderabad. I appeal to muslim brothers in Pakistan that please do not relate the Christians of Pakistan with this blasphemous act of an American.

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  • ABC
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:17AM

    The US government had nothing to do with this video then why should the US ambassador be charged for a crime?? Why are idiots attacking churches what do poor christians in Pakistan have to do with this??

    There is something really wrong with us.

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  • Q4U
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:18AM

    Farukh, they are just proving the movie producer right that Muslims are barbarians. If I were you I would do my best to get out of Barbaristan as soon as possible.

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  • khursheed ahmed siddique
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:34AM

    Sir,

    I commented nothing offensive but tried to find out a logical solution. The crime of blasphemy is a heinous crime and the perpetrator should be brought to justice.

    Khursheed ahmed Siddique

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  • Q4U
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:35AM

    Breaking News,
    Protesters have threatened the US that if it does not behead the movie maker, it will mean that the US does not respect other’s beliefs and feelings. In the mean time: http://tribune.com.pk/story/437786/ahmadi-shopkeeper-gunned-down/

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:40AM

    All Muslim Countries should issue arrest warrants for the American who made and uploaded Anti-Muslim film on YouTube and whenever and wherever he is arrested, he should be tried under blasphemy law and should be awarded capital punishment.

    Unless all Muslim Countries will not get united for punishing the people for making caricatures and using degraded language against Prophet Muhammad (BPBUH) who is the Prophet of all Muslim Ummah, the non-Muslims will not leave their ugly acts and deeds.

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  • T4U
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:51AM

    The way these Muslims look and behave is exactly what the movie shows , so are these people trying to prove that what this movie shows is not false? People who hear about these protests in which muslims are burning cars of their fellow citizens would make them think that maybe the things about the Prophet Mohd in the movie are also true. So, I dont think these protesters are doing anything that their prophet would be proud of. If anything he may be embarrased right now and in front of the God, who may be asking him what kind of job he did as his prophet. I feel sorry for this whole situation that Prophet has to face because of his followers.

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  • salman
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:23AM

    Lets not attack the church … i agree

    tear down US embassy

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  • citizen
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:32AM

    May Allah have mercy on us . It is an extremely sensitive topic and most of us lack knowledge to give any comment . Beware of Allah’s wrath .Responsible person should be punished . No one has right to play with sentiments of any religious group .

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  • Mofos
    Sep 17, 2012 - 10:35AM

    What exactly do these people want? When will this ignorance and insanity end. The American government does not have any powers at all, none at all, to do anything about a movie no matter how offensive. They are not a banana republic like us, where people in power are free to do whatever, and laws can be changed in a day.

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  • S. Pants
    Sep 17, 2012 - 12:07PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    Please try and understand and educate yourself a little. Laws only apply to the land to which they belong. Pakistani law only applies to what happens in Pakistan. And there is no law in America under which the movie-makers can be punished. Stop making impossible demands like these protesters. Does banging your head against a wall make you feel better?

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  • dullu
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:25PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    We are going back to the stone age

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