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More protests

September 19, 2012


TUESDAY saw more groups joining the protest against the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims. There were rallies by the Jamaat-i-Islami and Sunni Tehrik, as well as by traders, lawyers, railway workers, etc. All came out angrily to register their outrage. Much of the attention has so far been focused on the bigger cities but the demons-trations have spread to smaller towns across the country — indicating the expanse of hurt. Notwithstanding condemnation of the film by the US, calls have been made for a more comprehen-sive shutdown and bigger processions in the coming days. One group has demanded that next Friday be declared a public holiday to facilitate a concerted national rebuke to the highly provocative film. All in all, the protest is building up and the pressure on the government to do all within its means to ensure that these marches are peaceful is mounting. The government is stretched. In a country beset with so many law and order problems, the police are now required to mind the routes various groups of protesters take, sometimes simultaneously. Serious situations have been avoided, but in certain other instances clashes have led to loss of lives.

Grave hurt has been caused and the strongest possible message delivered to the makers of the mischievous film. But now the protesters need to be careful so that they do not play into the hands of those whose sole purpose here is to incite violence. Like the government, the protest organisers also have a responsibility to make sure these rallies do not ignite fires that can be difficult to put out. Much before the threat such violence could pose to anyone else, the organisers should be mindful of the risk the participants of processions faced. When passions run so high even a small act of indiscretion can spell disaster.