Islamist protesters demand Pakistan cuts all ties with France

Islamist protesters demand Pakistan cuts all ties with France

November 16, 2020

Fury over Charlie Hebdo ‘blasphemy’ shows no sign of relenting as thousands of Islamist protesters demand Pakistan cuts all ties with France over Mohammed cartoons

  • Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party supporters blocked the main road into Islamabad, Pakistan, today
  • The party is demanding that the government severs diplomatic ties with France and expels its ambassador
  • Protesters chanted that the only punishment for a blasphemer was beheading before clashing with police 

Fury over Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed showed no sign of waning today as thousands of Islamist protesters continued to clash with police in Pakistan.  

The protesters from the Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party that has made blasphemy its rallying cry are demanding that the government severs diplomatic ties with France and expels its ambassador, police and party officials said.

The government has yet to respond to their demands.

Pakistan also banned public political rallies today after recording its highest daily coronavirus infections since July for four days running. 

Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik protesters shout slogns beside empty tear gas shells fired by police during an anti-France demonstration in Islamabad, Pakistan, today

Protesters sit with their hand raised while blocking the main road in Islamabad, Pakistan, as part of a demonstration against Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed

Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan supporters block a main highway during an anti-France rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, today

Nearly 2,000 protesters camped at the main entrance to Islamabad, Pakistan, today. The protesters attacked the police with bricks, stones and sticks according to police official Tauqeer Shah

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard beside the shipping containers placed by authorities on a highway to stop supporters of ‘Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, a religious political party, entering into the capital during an anti-France rally in Islamabad today

Police blocked the demonstrators as they attempted to enter Islamabad. Some chanted that the only punishment for a blasphemer was beheading, police official Tauqeer Shah said.

The protesters attacked the police with bricks, stones and sticks, he added. They were pictured blocking the road into Pakistan’s capital.

‘Several of our officers were injured,’ he said, adding that nearly 2,000 protesters had camped at the main entrance to the city, refusing to leave.

‘We want the government to expel the French ambassador immediately,’ the TLP’s vice president Zaheer-ul-Hasan said in a video statement. He added that scores of protesters were injured in the clashes.

The protests continue from the weekend, when demonstrators marched in the cities of Hyderabad and Rawalpindi as well as the capital.

Protesters sit beside empty tear gas shells fired by police to stop them enter in to capital during an anti-France rally over the remarks of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Islamabad today

The supporters are protesting the French President Emmanuel Macron over his recent statements and the republishing in France of caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad they deem blasphemous

Islamist demonstrators raise their fists in the air while they block a main highway during an anti-France rally over the remarks of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Islamabad today 

Pakistanis take part in a demonstration against Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed in Rawalpindi yesterday

People hold a placard reading ‘Muhammad’ during a demonstration against French President Macron, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, yesterday

Security forces carry riot gear as Pakistanis take part in a demonstration against Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed in Rawalpindi yesterday

Supporters of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) party attend a protest against French President Macron’s comments over Prophet Muhammad caricatures, in Rawalpindi yesterday

Protesters take a rest while blocking a main road during an anti-France rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, today

Meanwhile, today Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a ban on protests, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We have decided to ban public gatherings in the country, including ours planned over the weekend, as large crowds help in the spread of the virus,’ Khan said on national television. 

Protests broke out in several Muslim countries over France’s response to a deadly attack last month on a teacher who showed cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad to pupils during a civics lesson. For Muslims, depictions of the Prophet are blasphemous.

In the knife attack, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin beheaded the teacher, Samuel Paty.

Police forces take security measures with more than 300 containers at the entrance and exit of Rawalpindi and the roads on these routes, as Pakistanis taking part in a demonstration against the French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday

Thousands of Pakistanis take part in the demonstration in Rawalpindi yesterday. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a ban on protests today, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly

French officials said the beheading was an assault on the core French value of freedom of expression.

After satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo re-published the cartoons in September, French President Emmanuel Macron said the freedom to blaspheme went hand in hand with the freedom of belief in France. 

In Pakistan and other Muslim-majority countries, people accused France’s government of being Islamophobic and needlessly provoking believers. Pakistan has condemned the re-printing of the cartoons.

There is a history of violent reaction to alleged incidents of blasphemy in Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty.

Police forces take security measures with more than 300 containers at the entrance and exit of Rawalpindi yesterday

People hold a placard reading ‘Muhammad’ during a demonstration against French President Macron, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, yesterday

Supporters of religious and political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) march during a protest against the cartoon publications of Prophet Mohammad in France and comments by the French President Emmanuel Macron, in Karachi on November 7

Members of the TLP party also camped for several days at the same entrance to Islamabad in 2017 to demand that a small change in local law be deemed blasphemous. 

In ensuing clashes, at least six protesters and one member of the police were killed and more than 150 injured.

Islamabad’s administration on Monday blocked most of the main roads into the city as well as mobile phone signals to prevent protesters from regrouping, a move that paralysed the capital.

‘We’re trying our best to clear the route,’ the capital’s deputy commissioner Hamza Shafaat tweeted.

Later in the day, paramilitary forces tried to disperse the protesters, but were forced to back away.

Emmanuel Macron accuses the Anglo-American press of legitimising terrorism in France by suggesting the country is racist and Islamophobic because of his stance on extremists 

Emmanuel Macron has accused the press of legitimising terrorist violence in France by suggesting the country is racist and Islamophobia because of his stance on extremists.

The French President called The New York Times media correspondent Ben Smith to criticise the paper’s English-language coverage of France’s stance on Islamic extremism in the wake of recent attacks in the country.

In comments published in Smith’s Sunday column, Macron argued that ‘when France was attacked five years ago, every nation in the world supported us.’   

‘So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values… when I see them legitimising this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost.’

In his column about their exchange, Smith said the French president had argued ‘foreign media failed to understand ‘laicite,” or secularism, a pillar of French policy and society.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said foreign media ‘failed to understand ‘laicite,” – the French brand of secularism, which has become increasingly controversial in recent years. Pictured: Macron speaks at the Paris Peace Forum on November 12

Domestic support for a firm line on the need for all citizens, including immigrants, to embrace French national values is stronger than ever after the grisly beheading last month of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed his pupils controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson on free speech.  

While paying tribute to the slain man, Macron defended France’s strict brand of secularism and its long tradition of satire.

‘We will not give up cartoons,’ he vowed. 

He reiterated his point in an interview this month with Le Grand Continent, a French publication, in which he stated that, despite his respect for different cultures, ‘I am not going to change our laws because they shock elsewhere.’

‘The fight of our generation in Europe will be a combat for our freedoms,’ Macron said, adding that he believed they were being ‘overturned’.

 

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