Protesters condemn offensive Charlie Hebdo caricatures

Published January 17, 2015
A supporter of Jamaat-i-Islami carries a placard during a protest in Islamabad on Friday. — AFP
A supporter of Jamaat-i-Islami carries a placard during a protest in Islamabad on Friday. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: On Friday, the twin cities saw dozens of protests to condemn the publication of blasphemous caricatures by controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Dozens of rallies were staged by the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) Rawalpindi chapter, the Sunni Tehreek (ST) as well individual mosques and seminaries.

More than 200 demonstrators, led by JI Rawalpindi Emir Shamsur Rehman Swati, marched from Moti Masjid on Liaquat Road to Fawara Chowk after Friday prayers, shouting anti-France slogans. They were also carrying placards bearing slogans condemning the magazine and protesting the misuse of freedom of speech to hurt Muslim sentiments.

Speakers also demanded that the French envoy be sent back home and the French embassy in Pakistan be closed down.


JI-led protests held in twin cities, Taxila, Wah and Hassanabdal


Before the rally, the khateeb from the Moti Masjid delivered a calling on all Muslims to stand up and be counted in the defence of the dignity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him).

“European countries have double standards. On the one hand, journalists are kicked out of newspapers that print controversial pictures of Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, but the printing of blasphemous caricatures is declared to be ‘freedom of expression’,” said Mr Swati said.

He called for the convening of a special session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to condemn the issue and show the enemies of Islam how strong the Muslim Ummah was.

Another demonstration, held at Chur Chowk on Peshawar Road was led by ST District President Allama Tahir Iqbal Chishti. Over 150 people gathered there after Friday prayers.

Special security arrangements had been made in the area. Peshawar Road from Charing Cross to Pirwadhai Mor was sealed off with containers and all link roads heading towards Chur Chowk were also closed.

Containers have been placed outside the French embassy in Islamabad on Friday in the wake of protests following publication of blasphemous sketches. — Online
Containers have been placed outside the French embassy in Islamabad on Friday in the wake of protests following publication of blasphemous sketches. — Online

Another rally, led by Mufti Haneef Qureshi, was held from Sadiqabad to Transformer Chowk.

Protests against Charlie Hebdo in the capital were more subdued than usual. Anticipating an aggressive reaction to the publication of offensive caricatures, a large contingent of Islamabad police was deployed at sensitive points, including the Lal Masjid.

Similarly, entry points into the Red Zone were sealed after Friday prayers and the entry into the Red Zone was only possible from Margalla Road. These measures were taken in apprehension of a repeat of the scenes witnessed on Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool, when demonstrators stormed the Serena Hotel and managed to breach Red Zone security as well.

A small demonstration was held in Sitara Market, G-7, whereas another demonstration, organised by the Majlis-i-Wahdatal Muslimeen, culminated at China Chowk. The rally was led by MWM Islamabad chapter head Allama Asghar Askari.

Another protest was staged collectively by Jamaatud Dawa and the Tehreek-i-Hurmat-i-Rasool, at Jama Masjid Qaba near I-8 markaz.

The protest was led by Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, head of the JuD’s political cell, and Tehreek-i-Hurmat-i-Rasool head Mufti Yousuf.

The main protest was held at Aabpara Chowk and led by JI naib emir Mian Aslam, who made a long speech highlighting how the West had constantly been testing the patience of Muslims by deliberately disgracing the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

The participants remained disciplined and peaceful in all rallies, but participants of the JuD protest in I-8 did burn the French flag.

In Taxila, a JI rally led by JI leader Khawaja Waqar and MPA Waqas Khan was staged at Taxila chowk, while PTI MPA from Wah Cantt Taimoor Masood and Taxila Bar President Afzal Janjua and other religious leaders led a similar rally in Wah. The speakers called upon the UN and EU to stop such caricatures from being published.

In Hassanabdal, lawyers boycotted court proceedings to display their displeasure over the sketches.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2015

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