Film protests turn deadly
* Two killed as thousands rally across Pakistan to denounce anti-Islam film
* One killed, several injured as protesters clash with police outside US consulate in Karachi
* Protesters pelt stones at US consulate, set police checkpost, several vehicles and a petrol pump on fire
* Shopkeeper killed by stray bullet during rally in Hyderabad
KARACHI/HYDERABAD: Two people were killed and several others injured and arrested in a series of protests across the country on Sunday against the anti-Islam film made in the US, with protesters burning US flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.
A massive protest rally was taken out by the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen from the Quaid’s mausoleum to the US consulate. Thousands of people, including students, participated in the rally. At one stage protesters broke through security cordons and got close to the heavily guarded US consulate, pelting the building with stones. The police then had to intervene with baton charge, tear gas, water cannons and aerial firing.
The angry mob tore down the US flag from the consulate’s wall and replaced it with one inscribed with slogans in favour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The mob also torched the police picket established near the consulate.
Later, the protesters marched towards the Numaish Chorangi and on the way torched four police mobiles, a petrol pump, and several vehicles and motorbikes, and clashed with the security officers in adjoining areas of the Chorangi and MA Jinnah Road.
City police chief Iqbal Mehmood told AFP at least 20 people were arrested. Richard Silver, a spokesman for the US consulate, said there had been no damage or injury to any person at the mission.
MWM spokesman Ali Ahmer told Daily Times that a party activist had died, eight others were seriously injured and about a dozen arrested by police. Later in a press conference, MWM leader Allama Ameen Sheehidi announced three-day mourning, and demanded the government register a murder case against the US consul general in Karachi for the activist’s killing.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Karachi chapter also organised a massive protest outside the press club. On the occasion, JUI Karachi chief Qari Usman demanded the government record a powerful protest on international level or resign. He demanded that the perpetuators be hanged publicly.
Meanwhile, a man was killed as people took to streets in Hyderabad to protest against the blasphemous film. The protests, which started as peaceful demonstration by a group of Muslim, Christian and Hindu representatives, turned violent later. Shopkeeper Muhammad Solangi died on the spot after he was hit by a stray bullet.
Several religious and political groups took out separate rallies. Christian and Hindu leaders, along with JI leaders, addressed a protest rally outside the press club.
The Islami Jamiat Talaba, the students wing of the JI, has announced to protest in front of the US consulate in Karachi today (Monday).
Elsewhere in Pakistan, over 6,000 people gathered in Lahore to condemn the movie, according to local police estimates. Organised by the banned Jamaatud Dawa (JD), the protest remained peaceful. Addressing the rally, Jamaatud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed demanded US diplomats be expelled from Pakistan and accused the US of conspiring against Muslims. He also announced plans to hold a long march towards Islamabad on the issue but did not give any date.
In Quetta, the JUI and pro-government Balochistan Muttahida Mahaz held separate demonstrations, in total attended by over 1,000 people.
In Multan, more than 600 local traders held a rally and burnt effigies of the filmmaker and controversial US pastor Terry Jones, who has promoted the film.
Some 500 protesters also rallied in Muzaffarabad, where the local JD chief, Abdul Aziz Alvi, described the movie as “shameful”. asad farooq/agencies