Pakistan's Christian community protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Peshawar..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Thousands of Pakistani Muslims and Christians rallied against cartoons insulting the Prophet Mohammad published in the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo as demonstrations continued across Pakistan on Sunday (January 18).
More than two thousand men marched on the streets of the eastern city of Lahore in a demonstration staged by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa religious organization.
Protesters chanted "God is greatest" and "We are ready to lay down our lives for our holy prophet".
"It is the call of our faith and our religion Islam that we sacrifice everything to end these blasphemies," Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed told a charged crowd.
Saeed has urged Pakistani leaders to attempt to pass an international law against blasphemy, which is punishable by death in Pakistan.
More than eight hundred demonstrators belonging to a major Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami held a protest in the southern city of Karachi. "Stop attacks on the honour of prophet", they chanted.
"By staging a protest, we are not only fulfilling our religious duty but are drawing attention of the rulers of Muslim Ummah. We also want to tell the west, Europe and America that if you disgrace our prophet, if you make cartoons of him or encourage the cartoon makers, we reserve the right to respond with everything possible," said Naeem-ur-Rehman, the Karachi chief of Jamat-e-Islami.
In a small protest by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party near the fortified French consulate in Karachi, demonstrates set fire to an effigy of French President François Hollande.
About one hundred Christians, who make up less than three per cent of Pakistan's majority Muslim population of 180 million, took to streets of the north-western city of Peshawar.
Holding crosses, they shouted "Down with Charlie Hebdo".
The leader of the group Naseem Nicholas said, "We stand together with our Muslim brethren. We appeal to the Pakistani and French governments that the blasphemers who published these sketches be punished. They should be hanged. The west and the rest of the world should ensure that no one does such things in the future against any religion, prophets and sacred books."
On Saturday (January 17) lawyers across Pakistan boycotted courts, heeding the call of the country's Bar Councils to express their displeasure over the cartoons.
On Friday (January 16), a photographer for French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) was wounded during clashes between about 200 protesters and police outside the French consulate in Karachi when a demonstration against Charlie Hebdo's front-page caricature of Prophet Mohammad turned violent.
Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has condemned the publishing of cartoons by Charlie Hebdo which many Muslims consider blasphemous, saying the cartoons were further fueling terrorism across the world. He said the actions of the cartoonists are no better than those of their murderers.
Some 12 people were killed in an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. In its first edition since the attack, the satirical weekly featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on its front page, which many Muslims saw as a provocation.sign up to our newsletter