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Thousands protest at Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoon in Pakistan

Supporters of religious group Jamaat ahle Hadees burn the French flag at a protest in Quetta on Friday
Supporters of religious group Jamaat ahle Hadees burn the French flag at a protest in Quetta on Friday Reuters/Naseer Ahmed

Pakistan saw its biggest demonstration yet against French paper Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon of the prophet Mohammed on Friday with thousands on the streets of the commercial capital, Karachi. A religious party has called for a million people to turn out on Sunday.

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Demonstrations in Pakistan against the “blasphemy” of depicting Mohammed have grown in size since the survivors of the Charlie Hebdo massacre published a reduced-size paper with the prophet on its front page last Wednesday.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

“Down with Charlie Hebdo! Down with the blasphemers!” the thousands-strong crowd in Kaarachi chanted.

The protest was called by Sunni Tehreek, a political-religious movement set up in the 1990s by supporters the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam.

Although the Barelvi are opposed to the Deobandi school, whose madrassas trained many Taliban leaders, they have become more vocal recently, particularly on questions like blasphemy.

The demonstrators demanded that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations take action against publications they consider blasphemous and called on the Pakistani government to put pressure on them to do so.

Dossier: Pakistan General Election 2013

Sunni Tehreek leader Sarwat Qadri declared that anyone making blasphemous remarks or publishing “anti-Islam” content will face “retaliation” from Muslims.

A smaller protest took place in the west Pakistani city of Quetta.

Islamist parties have called for demonstrations across the country after Friday prayers and protest camps to be set up in some cities.

They have called for a boycott of countries that have allowed the publication of content they deem blasphemous.

The leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, on Wednesday said he was organising a “million march” on 25 January.

In neighbouring Afghanistan about 50 people demonstrated outside the French embassy in Kabul, chanting “France, you are the devil!”.
 

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