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Karachi ‘anti-Islam film’ protest turns violent

Published Sep 17, 2012 11:14am

Protesters hurl back tear gas  fired by police, unseen, to stop them from walking toward the U.S. consulate during a demonstration in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. —AP Photo

KARACHI: A rally in Karachi in protest of an anti-Islam film met with shelling from police personnel on Monday as the demonstrators tried to march on the US Consulate, DawnNews reported.

The rally was being led by the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT), the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). The atmosphere turned tense when the protestors, demonstrating near the city’s MT Khan road, tried to march towards the US Consulate located a small distance from the scene of the protest.

A large contingent of Rangers and police personnel was guarding the area, and roads had been blocked in anticipation of the protests.

Security personnel opened aerial fire to stop the protestors from marching towards the high security area where the consulate is located. Clashes ensued as demonstrators pelted security personnel with stones, damaging one of their vehicles.

A senior police official said 30 students were arrested at the demonstration organised by the religious party.

A demonstrator died Monday after being shot in the head during similar clashes with police near the US consulate on Sunday, a hospital official told AFP.

Angry Muslims demonstrated across Pakistan in protest of the low-budget movie, entitled “Innocence of Muslims”, which ridicules the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The religiously offensive film has sparked fury across the Muslim world.

Earlier today, a person was killed and two others were injured by police gunfire during a similar protest in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province.

Protests in Peshawar also turned violent as rallies taken out separately converged towards the US consulate, which had prompted the administration to beef up the cordon by deploying extra personnel, stopping the mob from getting close to the consulate on Khyber Road.

Up to 3,000 university students, teachers and employees marched in Peshawar after boycotting classes, police had said.

The foreign ministry condemned the film last week, saying it would provoke hatred and had hurt the people of Pakistan.

“The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the airing of a defamatory video clip in the US, maligning the revered and pious personality of Prophet Mohammad,” said a statement issued by the ministry.