The Pakistani Police on Friday fired water cannon and bullets in the air as they clashed with anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters outside the French consulate in Pakistan`s port city of Karachi.
The protesters belonged to the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, which is holding nationwide rallies against the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad by the French satirical weekly.
Pakistan’s religio-political groups today observed black day to protest against the French satirical magazine..
The satirical weekly published the contents on Wednesday after an attack on its office in Paris by two gunmen last week in which 12 people were killed.
Various groups and parties had announced yesterday to organise a countrywide protest against the publication after Friday prayers.
The Tehreek Hurmat-i-Rasool, a conglomerate of 20 plus groups, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamat-ud Dawa, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Sunni Tehreek and Sunni Ittehad Council also announced launching a countrywide protest movement against the publication.
The government has taken security measures to keep the protesters within limits of law but it is feared that these protests can become violent.
On Thursday, a faction of the Taliban denounced the journalists involved in the publishing of cartoons as “filthy blasphemers”.
The rallies come a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led Parliament in condemning the reprinting of the cartoons, regarded by many Muslims as offensive, in Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were targeted by attackers last week.
Also on Thursday, nearly 300 people from a little known Pakistani religious group rallied in the eastern city of Lahore, carrying placards of “Down with Charlie Hebdo” and a banner demanding that those drawing the prophet’s caricatures be hanged. The rally started from a main thoroughfare in the heart of the city and culminated outside the US Consulate. Islam generally forbids depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, and many in Muslim-majority Pakistan view the cartoons as blasphemous.
Tens of thousands of religious party activists, Friday, are expected to turn out nationwide, including followers of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charitable wing of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group which masterminded attacks on Mumbai in 2008.
The group has come under the spotlight following Pakistan`s pledge to crack down on all militant groups, including those considered friendly to its interests, in the aftermath of a school massacre last month that left 150 people dead.
In addition to rallies by religious parties, lawyers in central Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have vowed to boycott court proceedings to display their displeasure over the sketches.