Pakistan shut mobile-phone services in its major cities and closed roads leading to US diplomatic posts on Friday as security forces bid to counter protest rallies against an anti-Islamic film that has triggered riots.
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Pakistani television channels were airing an advertisement Friday by the US State Department with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disavowing the film.
The 30-second US announcement, subtitled in Urdu, shows Obama saying the US rejects “all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Clinton is shown saying, “The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message."
Cell phones in several Pakistani cities including Karachi, Lahore and parts of Islamabad were blocked from Friday morning, according to Omar Manzur, a spokesman for Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd., or Mobilink. Services will remain suspended until 6 p.m. Shipping containers were used to block roads leading to embassies and consulates as protests began in the capital, television channels reported.
Pakistan is bracing for its biggest demonstrations yet against the American-made amateur movie, called the “Innocence of Muslims,” after Islamist groups threw their weight behind the protests and Pakistan’s government announced Friday as a national holiday to celebrate the life of Prophet Muhammad.