Decrying US President Barack Obama’s refusal to ban an anti-Islam film despite widespread protests, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced a long march through Peshawar on October 1 to honour Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Addressing a press conference, DPC media coordinator Advocate Israrullah said that so far DPC’s component parties were protesting individually. On October 1, all parties on the council will collectively observe a day to honour the Prophet (PBUH).
“About 100,000 people will take part in a march from Chamkani to Karkhano in Peshawar,” said Israrullah. All arrangements have been finalised to ensure that this march is peaceful, he added.
DPC demands an apology from the US President, a policy that outlaws blasphemy internationally, and punishment for those who sponsored the sacrilegious film, said Israrullah. He added that the US ambassador should be expelled from Pakistan till DPC’s demands were met.
“President Obama refused to ban the sacrilegious movie, while Muslims are being asked to not hold protests demonstrations. What kind of freedom of speech is this?” he questioned.
Discounting the political parties’ involvement in Ishq-e-Rasool Day riots, Israrullah said that incidents of arson, looting and killings on September 21 were engineered to reduce the effectiveness of such rallies. He also said that the day was marked by violence owing to laxity on the government’s part, and that the media only highlighted the riots without giving due coverage to protest rallies.
DPC’s rally will be lead by its central leadership including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Syed Munawar Hassan, DPC Chairman and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiullah Haq, Jamaatud Dawa chief Professor Hafiz Saeed and Ahl-e-Sunnah wal Jamaat chief Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi.
The protesters will embark on their march from Jamaat-e-Islami’s provincial headquarters near Ring Road Chowk, and will conclude at the Karakhano market near the boundary of Jamrud tehsil in Khyber Agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2012.