KARACHI: A protest organised by Islami Jamiat Talaba's Karachi chapter on Friday turned violent when a clash took place between protesters and police. Security forces resorted to aerial firing, tear gas and water cannons to push back the charged mob.
Three party workers, who were affected by tear gas, have been transferred to the nearest hospital.
Agence France-Presse photographer, Asif Hasan, was shot while covering the rally.
“AFP photographer Asif Hasan suffered wounds resulting from gunshots fired by...protesters, police have not opened fire,” Abdul Khalique Shaikh, a senior police officer in Karachi, told Reuters.
“The bullet struck his lung, and passed through his chest. He is out of immediate danger and he has spoken to his colleagues,” Doctor Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman for Karachi's Jinnah Hospital where Hassan was taken, told AFP.
She added that Hassan was struck by a non-rubber bullet in his back.
Hassan did not appear to have been deliberately targeted but police and witnesses said protesters had been shooting at police and Hassan was caught in the crossfire.
The party denied it was responsible and blamed the police.
Hafiz Bilal Ramzan, head of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba Karachi blamed police for the “indiscriminate” firing. “Police are responsible for those wounded during the protest including Asif Hasan,” Ramzan said.
Another reporter was also said to be injured in the clashes.
Following the skirmish, all roads leading to Teen Talwar were cordoned off while businesses in the vicinity were shut down.
Hundreds of people had gathered at Teen Talwar to register their protest over the publication of a blasphemous cartoon disrespecting Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) by French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
|— DawnNews screengrab|
Today's rally was aimed at registering its protest outside the French Consulate building. City police had blocked all the roads leading to the consulate and had stopped protesters from marching towards the consulate. The protesters were seen carrying batons.
The rally comes a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led Parliament in condemning the cartoons.
Police said they were trying to control the situation by forcing the crowd to disperse but protesters kept on hurling stones at them.
|— DawnNews screengrab|
A contingent of Rangers' personnel also assisted the police in controlling the charged crowd.
Rallies observed in Lahore, Islamabad
Rallies are also being carried out in the capital Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore against the controversial cartoons.
|Supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami rally to protest against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Islamabad. — AFP|
Religio-political groups of all schools of thought are observing today as a black day against the French magazine. The Tehreek Hurmat-i-Rasool, a conglomerate of 20 plus groups, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamatud Dawa, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Sunni Tehreek and Sunni Ittehad Council also announced on Thursday launching a countrywide protest movement against the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo.
Last week, the magazine's offices in Paris were attacked by gunmen, killing 12 people in cold blood in the worst attack in France in decades.
Victims included four prominent cartoonists, among them the editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, who had lived under police protection for years after receiving death threats.
The satirical newspaper gained notoriety in Feb 2006 when it reprinted sacrilegious cartoons that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. The cartoons set off a wave of violence in the Middle East which claimed 50 lives.
Its offices were fire-bombed in Nov 2011 when it published an objectionable sketch. Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons.
Hollande hails 'reborn' Charlie Hebdo as magazine sells out
Earlier this week, the publication ran its first issue since the attacks, featuring a bearded man holding a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie")
The magazine, which last month did not have enough money to pay staff wages, could raise as much as 10 million euros in sales and donations since the attack.
Peshawar rally pays tribute to Charlie Hebdo attackers
While last week's attack sparked global outrage, dozens of people in Peshawar paid tribute Tuesday to the brothers who carried out the murders.
The small-scale event was led by local cleric Maulana Pir Mohammad Chishti.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar lauds Charlie Hebdo attackers
The Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban meanwhile issued a statement lauding the two brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo assault.