ISLAMABAD (September 21, 2012): In the observance of Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH), millions of Pakistanis will take to the streets on Friday to demonstrate against a US-made anti-Islam film after the government called an impromptu public holiday to let people protest.
The day has been designated a “day of love for the prophet” and the
government has urged people to protest peacefully to show their opposition to the “Innocence of Muslims” movie, which has triggered angry demonstrations around the world.
All the major political parties and religious groups have announced
protests, as have many trade and transport organizations, and large crowds are expected to turn out after Friday prayers.
Shops, markets and petrol stations will close and transport is likely to come to a standstill, but authorities will hope there is no repeat of the violence seen on the streets of the capital on Thursday.
Around 5,000 angry protesters, many armed with wooden clubs, battled police near Islamabad’s heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave on Thursday, shouting anti-American slogans and demanding access to the US embassy.
Police used tear gas and live rounds to try to disperse the crowd in clashes that left at least 50 injured, and the government was forced to call in the army to defend the diplomatic area, which houses most Western embassies.
There have been dozens of protests against the film across Pakistan in the past week, and two people have died, but Thursday was the first time violence erupted in the capital.
The crudely made film, produced by US-based extremist Christians, has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online, and more than 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the film.
The US State Department on Thursday warned its citizens to avoid travel to Pakistan, and Washington paid to air adverts in Urdu across Pakistani television in a bid to disassociate the US government from the inflammatory film.
In a move likely to stoke Muslim anger yet further, a French magazine on Wednesday published blasphemous caricatures. (AFP)