Pakistani Muslims to protest activists' arrests

A coalition of radical Islamic parties called for nationwide protests in Pakistan on Monday after police arrested hundreds of religious activists, thwarting a weekend rally against Prophet Muhammad cartoons, in the eastern city of Lahore. The alliance of six hard-line Muslim parties called Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), or United Action Forum, declared Monday "a protest day" after security forces prevented Sunday's planned rally in Lahore, alliance lawmaker Liaqat Baluch said. He said that women supporters of the coalition would defy a government ban on protests and hold a rally in Lahore later Monday to express anger over the publication of the cartoons, deemed blasphemous by Muslims. Pakistan banned anti-cartoon rallies in the capital Islamabad, Lahore and other eastern cities after several recent demonstrations turned deadly.