KARACHI: Many religious and political organisations on Sunday took out rallies in different areas of the metropolis to condemn publication of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in France and urged people to boycott French products.
The organisations that staged rallies included Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).
Almost every party wanted the government to cut off diplomatic ties with France as the protesters were not satisfied with the explanation given recently by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The protesters also demanded that the French president seek an apology from Muslims.
No untoward incident was reported from any area.
The city’s main rally was taken out by the ISO in Clifton, where roads leading to the French consulate general near Teen Talwar were closed to, what a senior police officer claimed, prevent protesters from moving towards the foreign mission.
The protesters carried banners and chanted slogans against the French president.
A spokesperson for the ISO said that their main demands were to severe diplomatic ties with the French government and expulsion of its envoy to Pakistan.
The ISO also urged the government to launch an organised movement and pursue the OIC to lead a campaign against France.
The protesters also set the flag of France on fire.
Later, a delegation of the ISO submitted a memorandum to a representative of the French consulate general. The protesters dispersed peacefully.
Rallies by PTI, PML-F
The PTI also took out a rally at the same venue against the publication of blasphemous caricatures and the French president.
Roads remained opened for vehicular traffic as PTI workers and supporters protested at the corner of roads and dispersed peacefully.
The PML-F staged a rally outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) where speakers said they would not tolerate any blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The party’s Sindh chapter general secretary Sardar Rahim said the French president would have to seek an apology from Muslims.
The outlawed ASWJ also chose the road in front of the Karachi Press Club as the venue of their rally.
ASWJ chief Allama Aurangzeb Farooqi told the participants that the ‘criminal’ silence of the Muslim rulers was hurting the sentiments of Muslims.
He asked the government to announce a boycott of French products at official level.
It may be recalled that President Macron in his interview with Al Jazeera tried to explain that he “understands the feelings of Muslims about the caricatures”.
He claimed that “the caricatures are not a government project rather the product of free and independent newspapers that are no affiliated with the government”.
He added: “I think the reactions were due to lies and misrepresentation and because people think I am in favour of these caricatures.”
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2020