Three injured as protests against Charlie Hebdo turn violent in Karachi

Published: January 16, 2015
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Asif Hassan, a photographer of French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP), sits in a police vehicle with his hand on his chest, after being shot during a protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

Asif Hassan, a photographer of French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP), sits in a police vehicle with his hand on his chest, after being shot during a protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

Asif Hassan, a photographer of French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP), sits in a police vehicle with his hand on his chest, after being shot during a protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Policemen guard a road leading to the US consulate during a protest against satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Lahore January 15, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS Protesters chant against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo after passing a resolution condemning the publication of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) cartoon. PHOTO: AFP State Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf (centre) leads a protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo after passing a resolution condemning the publication of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) cartoon. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Police fired water cannon and bullets in the air as they clashed with anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters outside the French consulate in Bath Island, Karachi on Friday. 

At least three people were wounded, including an AFP photographer, and taken to hospital, one in critical condition, a doctor in Karachi said.

The protesters belonged to the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is holding nationwide rallies against the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) by the French satirical weekly.

Police had sealed of several streets leading to the area. A Reuters reporter said some of the protesters appeared armed with guns and he saw them firing shots after security forces used water cannon and tear gas to stop the crowd advancing on the consulate.

Express News screengrab of the ongoing clashes.

RELATED POST: At least 12 killed in Paris massacre

Further, Rangers have been deployed at the French Consulate, Express News reports. Meanwhile, the police has detained 20 protesters.

About 200 protesters that had gathered have started to disperse and are currently staging a sit-in at Teen Talwar. Further, all roads leading to Teen Talwar have been blocked.

Express News screengrab of protesters.

AFP photographer Asif Hassan was shot and seriously injured as he was caught in the crossfire while covering the protests but was out of immediate danger following surgery.

The party denied it was responsible and blamed the police.

“The bullet struck his lung, and passed through his chest. He is out of immediate danger and he has spoken to his colleagues,” Doctor Seemi Jamali, a spokesperson for  Jinnah Hospital where Hassan was taken, told AFP.

She added that Hassan was struck by a non-rubber bullet in his back.

“There were around 350 protesters who wanted to go to the French consulate and when the police tried to stop them they started firing at the police,” senior police official Abdul Khaliq Sheikh told AFP.

A witness at the scene confirmed the police account.

But Hafiz Bilal Ramzan, head of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba Karachi blamed police for the “indiscriminate” firing.

“Police are responsible for those wounded during the protest including Asif Hasan,” Ramzan said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern over injury caused to AFP photographer Asif Hassan during protests in Karachi, Radio Pakistan reported.

He prayed for his early recovery and asked authorities concerned to ensure best medical treatment to him.

Meanwhile, all roads leading to the French Embassy in Islamabad have been blocked.

Cities across the nation  set to protest against the printing of the cartoons.

Protests in Lahore, Peshawar and Faisalabad against Charlie Hebdo also underway, Express News reports.

The rallies come a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led parliament in condemning the reprinting of the cartoons, regarded by many Muslims as offensive, in Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were targeted by attackers last week, leaving 12 people dead.

RELATED: PM condemns publication of blasphemous caricatures in Charlie Hebdo

Tens of thousands of religious party activists are expected to turn out nationwide, including followers of Jamaatud Dawa, the charitable wing of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group which allegedly masterminded attacks on Mumbai in 2008.

The group has come under the spotlight following the country’s pledge to crack down on all militant groups, including those considered friendly to its interests, in the aftermath of a school massacre last month that left 150 people dead.

The Jamaatul Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan meanwhile issued a statement lauding the two brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo assault, saying “they freed the earth from the existence of filthy blasphemers”.

“O enemies of Islam beware! Every youth of this Ummah (Muslim community) is willing to sacrifice himself on the honour of (the) Prophet,” said the statement, which was sent via email by spokesperson Ehsanullan Ehsan.

In addition to rallies by religious parties, lawyers in central Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have vowed to boycott court proceedings to display their displeasure over the sketches.

RELATED: Rally in Peshawar celebrates Charlie Hebdo attackers

The magazine this week published a “survivors” issue featuring an image of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), which sold out Wednesday before more copies of an eventual print run of five million hit newsstands in France.

Reader Comments (23)

  • Dajjal
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:01PM

    How stupid do you have to be if you are so easily offended by cartoons???

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:06PM

    When will these “religious” parties start to protest the murder of 140 children and teachers at APS?

    I want to know the time and date?

    Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:23PM

    Take them to military courts.

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  • Zaida
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:39PM

    Pakistan is Islam ka tekhedaar.

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 16, 2015 - 2:41PM

    This is nothing but a tactic to divert attention from their own support of terrorist activity.

    Recommend

  • Chachoo
    Jan 16, 2015 - 3:02PM

    I remember the last protests when the petrol station near my house was torched and around Pakistan more than 20 people died. I hope this time it will not happen like that and we will not become a Joke for the rest of the world.
    Protest is your right but do care about everything around you and make it as peaceful as possible. Recommend

  • salman
    Jan 16, 2015 - 3:33PM

    Will these protesters also march against the terrorists who carried out the APS attack?

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 16, 2015 - 3:55PM

    Another example of how a government SHOULD NOT behave.

    Recommend

  • Aftab
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:23PM

    If only there was such protests and a show of strength from these people in response to Peshawar the country would be in a better place.

    Recommend

  • KR
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:36PM

    Where were these religious scholars when all the innocent children died in Peshawar and the innocent kid was sexually molested and killed in a mosque in Lahore just few weeks ago ???

    Recommend

  • Hatim
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:55PM

    Jamaate Islami should be banned. How can one be allowed to fire weapons at police and get away with it?

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  • Fawad
    Jan 16, 2015 - 4:57PM

    I do not understand the concept of boycotting courts for defending the honor of Islam. We should give more justice on that day rather than stop giving justice in the name of Islam.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 16, 2015 - 5:52PM

    Peaceful protest against publication of cartoons is legal but protest against French government on killing terrorists is criminal and must be dealt with force.

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  • oBSERVER
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:03PM

    They should protest in front of Zardari House who allowed Police such high handedness. Zardari’s interest lie in London, France and NewYork. So he is on French side as would be Nawaz who is a British slave.

    Recommend

  • Hamid Niazi
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:11PM

    If our political rulers are cowards they cant / wont use political clout to stop this what else can the awam do.

    Recommend

  • fazal
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:19PM

    They are hypocrites only, this kind of protest does not mean anything.They should jump in the ocean.

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  • Tahir Memon
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:47PM

    Every Friday I go to offer Jumma Prayers in a mosque located inside Hilal-e-Ahmer compound, which is very close to Teen Talwar.

    When I went to the mosque at 13:00 hrs, there was no signs that after one hour demonstration will be held by the protestors.

    When I came out from the mosque at 13:45 hrs, I saw all the private TV channels vans standing close to Teen Talwar roundabout and also saw few students standing over there and also the Police Mobile Van.

    I walked towards my office which is close to Teen Talwar. At 14:15 hrs while I was having lunch, I heard many gun shots were fired.

    There was a complete panic and choas at Teen Talwar and people were running in the bylanes.

    After having lunch and tea, I came out from my office and saw that still firing was going on. It went on for few more minutes but it was not clear as who is firing. Whether Police was firing on protestors or the protesters were firing at Police.

    I was told by the Security Guard to go inside the office and I saw him holding his licence pistol in his hand ready to fire, but he did not fired a single shot.

    The protesters were blocking the road and the traffic on both sides of the roads at Teen Talwar were returning back due to law and order situation.

    After waiting for few minutes when the firing was stopped, I took a chance to leave the area having fear in my mind whether I will be able to reach home alive today in this situation.

    Thanks Al-Mighty Allah, I got out of the situation and reached home safely.

    Teen Talwar has become a prominent place for all sorts of demonstrations.Recommend

  • woody
    Jan 16, 2015 - 6:58PM

    What ever happened to peaceful protest? And why does Pakistan get a say in what happens in France? I am no fan of Charlie Hebdo and find their satire crude and offensive – I protest by not buying their newspaper – seemed to be working since their total circulation was miniscule before extremist got involved.

    Recommend

  • MJ
    Jan 16, 2015 - 8:43PM

    Some non-Muslims in a foreign country did something wrong. In response, let’s destroy the peace of our own city and during the process hurt or even kill locals, mostly Muslims and destroy property worth millions. Looking at the behaviors of these protesters Darwin’s theory that humans evolved from apes starts making sense.

    Recommend

  • salman
    Jan 16, 2015 - 9:05PM

    @Chachoo:
    If you live in Lahore, you can feel a bit safer. Chances of petrol stations being blown up is close to nil, as most of them don’t have petrol in them – thanks to great governance by PMLN.

    Recommend

  • Pakistanis
    Jan 16, 2015 - 11:42PM

    These people eventually turn into the taliban.We cant allow this to happen anymore.

    Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Jan 17, 2015 - 12:59AM

    Such undignified and violent demonstrations have only one main motive, namely an outlet for the accumulated destructive and criminal energy. They have absolutely no connection to any religion or spirituality.

    Recommend

  • F. Chaudhry
    Jan 17, 2015 - 1:36AM

    A little common sense is needed to steer clear of these violent reactions. There may be two responses to such situations when fire erupts ; either to fuel up this fire or to use extinguishers. Looking at the situation in the world at hand, I request all Muslims to help combat the fire and work to extinguish it. These violent protests will aggravate the prevalent situation and in fact it is. Cant you see that they are using you in their anti Islamic campaigns by instigating your emotions?

    Recommend

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