Pakistan President Seeks Apology From Charlie Hebdo Amid ProtestKhurrum Anis and Kamran Haider
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain sought an apology from Charlie Hebdo for depicting the Prophet Muhammad on its magazine cover as protesters and police clashed over demonstrations in Karachi.
The French magazine “undoubtedly” hurt the feelings of Muslims, Hussain said in an e-mailed statement. “Freedom of expression doesn’t mean insulting the faith of others.”
An Agence-France Presse photographer was shot and injured as Pakistani police dispersed demonstrators who were protesting the publication of the cartoons.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the lower house of parliament yesterday condemned the publication of the cartoons in the Paris-based satirical weekly. Twelve people were killed in the initial attack on Charlie Hebdo, which had received threats because of an earlier depiction of Muhammad. After a manhunt for the killers, 17 people were dead in Paris’s deadliest attacks in more than half a century.
Student members of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party, tried to march toward the French Consulate in Karachi today. Scuffles broke out between participants and the police when officials tried to block their way. About 200 protesters gathered at the site, according to police. The party claimed 2,500 people attended.
Religious parties held peaceful protests in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar today.
A photographer for AFP was shot and hurt in the Karachi scuffle, the agency said, without providing details. A protester and a policeman were also injured, according to Seemi Jamali, spokeswoman for the Jinnah Hospital in Karachi.
Police resorted to firing after “a journalist was injured from a bullet that was fired from the crowd,” Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, a senior police officer, said by phone. “Police resorted to using the water cannon then tear gas to stop them but they wouldn’t listen.”
Television channels showed images of riot police with rifles throwing sticks and stones at protesters who shouted slogans against the cartoons.
“Police needlessly fired shots at our peaceful protest,” Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, a spokesman for the Jamaat-e-Islami said by phone from Karachi. “The participants were going to the French Consulate peacefully when police resorted to aggression. Several of our boys have been injured.”
The French consulate is located in an upscale neighborhood in Karachi’s south, where residents heard gunfire and roads quickly became deserted.
“Such a needless show of strength will only push Pakistan further toward isolation,” Mutaher Ahmed Sheikh, professor of international relations at the University of Karachi, said by phone. “Religion is an overwhelmingly sensitive issue in Pakistan and if there was a peaceful protest, it should have been allowed.”
Paramilitary troops were called in after the protests and deployed outside the French consulate.