ISLAMABAD: Though September 21 has been declared the National Day of Protest against the blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims,” the capital was brimming with protesters, forcing varsities, schools, offices and restaurants in the twin cities to close early on Thursday.
Some students participating in Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) “Talent Hunt” had to cut short their performance and about 80 of them were escorted out of the gallery so they could get home before the protest gained momentum.
Though the event was rushed, students managed to display their talents by performing tableaus, sing folk music and dance on popular beats and demonstrate their
PNCA has been organising the talent hunt for the last five years to provide youth a platform for creative expression.
The event is aimed at discovering the students’ hidden potential and bringing together participants from diverse backgrounds. Students from third to 10th grade, including a few special children, all received cups for participating in the talent hunt.
A representative of PNCA said, “Peaceful protest is every citizen’s right, as long as it’s done peacefully and without any destruction of private or public property.
However, the protest became increasingly violent with protesters destroying traffic signals, pelting vehicles with stones including ambulances and police and holding up traffic.
Fatima, a first-year student at Iqra University who got caught up in the protest while returning from the varsity after classes were cancelled, said, “We have the right to protest against the film but resorting to violence, injuring your own people and destroying your city just creates terror. These are the same roads we travel on all the time and they are chaotic.”
Guests leaving Serena Hotel were surprised to inhale the tear gas filled air. We weren’t expecting the protest to be so tumultuous today, but we know now what to expect tomorrow so we will all stay home,” said Haseeb, an A’ Level student.
The students belonged to Saint Paul’s’ Education System, Islamabad Science School and College, IMCG Post Graduate College F-7/4, Faiz-ul-Islam High School, Islamabad Model College for Girls, Gandhara Public School, Hassan Academy for Special Children, IMCG Humak, and Islamabad Model College for Boys G-6/2.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.
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