The controversial American film on Islam which has irked Muslims across the world has also resulted in several protests across Pakistan demanding the expulsion of the US Ambassador and cut off in ties between the two countries.
Majlis Wahdatul Muslameen rallied from the G-5 Imam Bargah in Islamabad up to the US embassy on Friday, however, the strict security arrangements at the embassy prevented any untoward incident during the protest. In a similar protest in Libya, the protesters had attacked the US embassy and also killed the US Ambassador to Libya, after which security at all US embassies across the world was tightened.
The protesters in Islamabad said that the film should be banned across the world and the filmmakers should be severely punished. They also demanded that the US should apologise for the film. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have already blocked access to the movie, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained that the movie was not supported by the US.
Around 400 protesters rallied in front of Islamabad’s Laal Masjid after Friday prayers, following a call from JI.
They called for the handover of Terry Jones, an American Christian pastor linked with the film, who has drawn protests in the past for burning the Holy Quran.
“Terry Jones should be handed to us for a trial in the sharia court,” a speaker at the rally told the gathering.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) which held protests in several cities including Peshawar, Karachi and Swat, claiming that the movie was supported by the US, and it was trying to provoke extremism by using different tactics. The party members and supporters threatened to attack the US embassy in Islamabad if the Pakistani government did not protest against the film.
JI Chief Munawar Hassan, addressing a protest rally in the Nazimabad area of Karachi, demanded that the US government ban the movie and also demanded the Interior ministry of Pakistan lodge a protest with the US ambassador.
The rally in Lahore was organised by Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool which was taken out from Green Chowk to Sohrab Khan, while the one in Multan was organised by Jamiat Talba Arbia and Shehri Mahaz. Protesters threw shoes at US and Israeli flags and set them on fire.
In Lahore, Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, seen as a front for a banned militant organisation, led a 500-strong rally against the film.
Saeed – who has a $10 million US government bounty on him – urged the Pakistan government to summon the American ambassador to protest over the film.
“We condemn this conspiracy of producing (an) anti-Islam film. Such blasphemous acts are intentional conspiracies from the US and we will not tolerate it,” he told the rally.
Apart from religious entities, the district bar lawyers also protested against the film in Sargodha and boycotted all court proceedings. They said that the government should demand the US to offer a formal apology for hurting the sanctity of the Muslims or shut down their embassy.
The lawyers also demanded a boycott of all American products.