Pakistan police: 25,000 protest cartoons
Updated: 2006-02-27 09:26
About 25,000 people rallied in Karachi against Prophet Muhammad cartoons
Sunday while authorities rounded up scores of Islamic hardliners to stop them
from demonstrating in another Pakistani city.
protestors throw stone towards police during a rally to condemn the
publication of cartoons depicting Islamic Prophet Muhammad, Sunday, Feb.
26, 2006 in Lahore, Pakistan. About 70 people, including clerics and
religious schools administrators, were arrested ahead of an illegal rally
against the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in the eastern Pakistani city of
Lahore, police said. [AP]
Pakistan banned anti-cartoon rallies in Lahore after several demonstrations
turned deadly, but protests were allowed to go ahead in Karachi, Pakistan's
largest city and economic hub.
Protesters chanted "Down with the blasphemer," "Death to America," and "End
diplomatic ties with European countries."
About 25,000 people joined the rally organized by Tahafuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat,
a Sunni Muslim religious group, said Shaukat Shah, a Karachi police officer.
The protest was the biggest in the port city since 40,000 rallied there on
Feb. 16 against the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper.
In Lahore, police thwarted an illegal rally by arresting or detaining without
charge some 150 people, including clerics, opposition lawmakers and religious
school administrators on Saturday and Sunday, police official Amir Zulfiqar
Police also blocked all streets leading to a central Lahore mall where the
protest was to be held. Some 15,000 policemen and 3,000 paramilitary troops
guarded major traffic intersections, government buildings, mosques and foreign
consulates, Lahore police chief Khawaja Khalid Farooq said.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a leader of a coalition of six radical Islamic parties,
attempted to lead the rally but was taken away in a police vehicle as he tried
to break through a police barricade, Zulfiqar said.
Nearly 100 of Ahmed's supporters stood near the police blockade chanting
"Punishment for insulting the prophet is death." There was no violence.
Parliamentary opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who was prevented by
police from boarding a flight to Lahore from Islamabad's airport, vowed that the
protests will continue despite Sunday's failure.
"By arresting religious and political workers, the government displayed a
dictatorial attitude which is condemnable," Rahman told reporters in the
"The government has shattered democratic values and by its steps it has
strengthened those forces which have insulted the prophet," he said.
More protests, which target the President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the
United States as well as the blasphemous cartoons, are scheduled for March 3 ¡ª a
day before President Bush visits Islamabad.
The Prophet cartoons have ignited violent protests across the Muslim world
that have killed at least 45 people. Muslims have denounced the drawings ¡ª one
of which shows a prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse ¡ª as
offensive to their religion.
The caricatures were first published in a Danish newspaper in September, then
reprinted by other Western media, mostly in Europe, in the name of free speech
and news value. Muslims consider any physical representation of Islam's prophet
"Any insults to the prophets will hurt Muslims," read placards held by some
of the protesters. "Don't abuse the freedom of speech."
"I cannot describe how hurt I feel. The Prophet Muhammad is not only the
prophet we follow, but he is dearer to us than our own selves," said Wael
Ibrahim, an Egyptian sales manager who lives in the city of Shenzhen, across the
border in mainland China.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had ordered the
suspension of a third newspaper that published a photograph showing the
The Berita Petang Sarawak, the only Chinese-language evening daily on Borneo
island, will be banned from publishing for two weeks starting Sunday, Abdullah