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Anti-Islam film sparks protests in country

September 14, 2012

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Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami cahnt slogans during a demonstation, in Karachi, Pakistan on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of people demonstrated in cities and towns across the country on Friday to denounce an anti-Islam film produced in the US. In some places the demonstrators burned US flags and called for punishment of the filmmaker.

The low-budget film titled ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which has sparked fury across the Muslim world, portrays Muslims as immoral and violent.

Police beefed up security around US missions in the country after violent attacks on American consulates and embassies in the Middle East. But protests in Pakistan’s major cities passed off largely without any untoward incident.

In Lahore, Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaatud Dawa, led a 1,000-strong rally against the film. He urged the government to summon the American ambassador to protest against the film.

Hundreds of students gathered outside the US Consulate in Lahore and burned the American flag.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) organised a rally in Karachi. About 1,000 party activists and supporters gathered with banners and placards bearing anti-US and anti-Israel slogans.

“Hang the filmmaker... hang the apostate,” they chanted. “Jihad is the only treatment to cure American cancer,” another slogan said.

In Quetta, around 800 activists of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam burned the US flag in front of the press club.

At least 500 protesters rallied in front of Islamabad’s Red Mosque after Friday prayers on a call from the JI.

They called for the handover of Terry Jones, an American Christian pastor linked with the film, who has drawn protests in the past for desecrating copies of the holy Quran.

“Terry Jones should be handed over to us for a trial by the Sharia court,” a speaker at the rally said.

Elsewhere in the federal capital, there were two smaller demonstrations, one of which led to brief scuffles with police.

In Peshawar, at least 500 people gathered after Friday prayers, chanting “Death to America”.

Protests and demonstrations were also held in Faisalabad, Multan, Charsadda, Mingora, Mansehra and Hyderabad.—Agencies