Sit-in against blasphemous caricatures called off in Islamabad
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri went to the demonstrators and convinced them to call off their protest. The protest organisers gave government two-day time to accept their demands. The federal minister said that he would convey their message to Prime Minister Imran Khan. On which the protesters called off their sit-in. The protesters demanded the government to sever ties France, boycott French goods and expel its ambassador from Pakistan.
Earlier, the situation became tense in Islamabad as police resorted to teargas shelling to disperse the crowd trying to march towards the French embassy on Friday evening.
According to details, the demonstrators, mostly traders from the Aabpara Market, organised a protest against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France and the statements of President Emmanuel Macron on the subject.
The local administration and police had already sealed the road at Serena Chowk by placing containers to block the marchers. But when they tried to move forward by removing them, the policemen used teargas and fired shots in the air to control the situation. But there had been no improvement in the situation by the time this report was filed.
A heavy contingent of police has been deployed in the area as the protesters are still present on the road leading to the French embassy which is located in the Diplomatic Enclave near the Serena Chowk.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to the Rehmatulil Aalimeen (PBUH) Conference, said the West was unable to understand the Muslims’ relationship with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and warned that Islamophobia would continue spreading if the trend remained unchecked.
“The blasphemous caricatures are a crime, not freedom of expression,” the prime minister said. Islamophobia was on the rise in the West where very few people followed religion, he said and added that the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) would have to play a role on the subject. The prime minister said the freedom of speech could not be used to cause pain to others, as he criticised the West over its policies towards the 1.25 billion Muslims.