KARACHI, Feb 16: Parts of Karachi remained closed and tens of thousands of people rallied here on Thursday in protest against blasphemous cartoons published in some European Newspapers.
Held against the background of mob violence during similar protests in Lahore and Peshawar earlier in the week, the rally was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the city.
The protesters carried banners demanding ‘death to blasphemers’ burnt effigies of western leaders in various areas.
The march was organized by Ahle Sunna wal Jamaat and over 20 allied organisations and their leaders described it as the biggest ever peaceful rally held in the city.
The administration had made elaborate security arrangements with large numbers of law-enforcement personnel deployed along the M.A. Jinnah Road through which the main procession passed.
Addressing the protesters, Mufti Muneebur Rahman, Chairman of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, urged the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to convene an urgent meeting on the issue of cartoons which had hurt the sentiments of the entire Ummah.
He praised the people of Karachi for registering their protests in a dignified and peaceful manner and said that burning property, attacking buses and killing people were against the teachings of Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
Chairman of the World Islamic Mission Shah Anas Noorani, Maulana Abbas Qadri, Professor Shah Fareed-ul-Haq and Shah Turab-ul-Haq Qadri also addressed the rally.
Federal ministers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement congratulated the people of the city and religious parties for holding peaceful protests.
In a joint statement issued here on Thursday, Babar Khan Ghauri, Shamim Siddiqui, Syed Safwanullah and Dr Aamer Liaquat Hussain said the rally in Karachi had proved that no Muslim would tolerate blasphemy and that while protesting against such acts, Muslims upheld dignity, decency and values in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
They said that the peaceful protests in Karachi had foiled the designs of elements who wanted to exploit the feelings of Muslims to achieve their ulterior motives.