Pakistan hit by deadly riots over anti-Muslim film

Associated Press
A Pakistani protester tosses a tear gas canister back at police behind containers blocking the road to the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. Pakistani police opened fire on rioters who were torching a cinema during a protest against an anti-Islam film Friday, and security forces clashed with demonstrators in several other cities in Pakistan on a holiday declared by the government so people could rally against the video. Thousands of people protested in several other countries, some of them burning American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
.

View gallery

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's "Day of Love for the Prophet" turned into a deadly day of gunfire, tear gas and arson.

Thousands angered by an anti-Muslim film ignored pleas for peaceful rallies and rampaged in several Pakistani cities Friday in battles with police that killed 19 people and touched off criticism of a government decision to declare a national holiday to proclaim devotion for the Prophet Muhammad.

The film, which was produced in the United States and denigrates the prophet, has outraged many in the Muslim world in the 10 days since it attracted attention on the Internet, and there were new, mostly peaceful protest marches in a half-dozen countries from Asia to the Middle East.

But it is Pakistan that has seen the most sustained violence, driven by a deep well of anti-American sentiment and a strong cadre of hard-line Islamists who benefit from stoking anger at the U.S. At 49 people — including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — have died in violence linked to the film around the world.

Analysts accused the Pakistani government of pandering to these extremists by declaring Friday to be an official holiday — calling it a "Day of Love for the Prophet." Officials urged peaceful protests, but critics said the move helped unleash the worst violence yet caused by the film, titled "Innocence of Muslims."

In addition to those killed, nearly 200 others were injured as mobs threw stones and set fire to cars and movie theaters, and battled with police who responded with tear gas and gunfire.

"The people were just waiting for a trigger," said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

In an attempt to tamp down the anger, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad purchased spots on Pakistani TV on Thursday that featured denunciations of the video by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. But their comments, which were subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language, apparently did little to moderate the outrage that filled the country's streets.

Police fired tear gas and live ammunition to push back the tens of thousands of protesters they faced in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, and the major cities of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. They were successful in preventing the protesters from reaching U.S. diplomatic offices in the cities, even though the demonstrators streamed over shipping containers set up on major roads to block their path.

The demonstrators, who were led by hard-line Islamist groups, hurled rocks at the police and set fire to their vehicles. They also ransacked and burned banks, shops, cinemas and Western fast-food restaurants such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

Clinton thanked the Pakistani government for protecting the U.S. missions in the country and lamented the deaths in the protests.

"The violence we have seen cannot be tolerated," she said, speaking alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Washington. "There is no justification for violence."

Khar thanked Obama and Clinton for speaking out against the video, saying it sent "a strong message, and that message should go a long way to ending the violence on many streets on the world."

The deadliest violence occurred in the southern port city of Karachi, where 14 people were killed, said hospital officials. More than 80 people were injured, said the top government official in the city, Roshan Ali Shaikh. At least three of the dead were policemen, one who died when hundreds of protesters attacked a police station.

"We are all ready to die for Prophet Muhammad," said Karachi protester Mohammad Arshad. "We want to show the world that Muslims are one and united on the issue."

Five people were killed and 60 wounded in the northwestern city of Peshawar, said police official Bashir Khan.

One of the dead was identified as Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani TV station who was killed when police fired at protesters torching a cinema and hit his vehicle, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who also was in the car. The TV channel showed doctors at a hospital trying unsuccessfully to save Amir's life.

At least 45 people, including 28 protesters and 17 policemen were wounded in clashes in Islamabad, where police fought with more than 10,000 demonstrators in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave where the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions are located. A military helicopter buzzed overhead as the sound of tear gas being fired echoed across the city.

In northwestern Pakistan, demonstrators burned the Sarhadi Lutheran Church in the city of Mardan, but no one was injured, said senior police officer Salim Khan

The government temporarily blocked cellphone service in 15 major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs during the protests, said an Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Blocking cellphones also had the benefit of making it harder for people to organize protests.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf urged the international community to pass laws to prevent people from insulting the prophet, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires in Islamabad, Richard Hoagland, over the film.

"If denying the Holocaust is a crime, then is it not fair and legitimate for a Muslim to demand that denigrating and demeaning Islam's holiest personality is no less than a crime?" Ashraf said in a speech to religious scholars and international diplomats in Islamabad.

Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, but not in the U.S.

U.S. officials have tried to explain to the Muslim world how they strongly disagree with the anti-Islam film but have no ability to block it because of free speech guarantees.

Khar, the foreign minister, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that declaring a national holiday for Friday would motivate the peaceful majority to demonstrate their love for the prophet and not allow extremists to turn it into a show of anti-American anger.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik defended the decision, saying the holiday made it easier for police to tackle protesters in Islamabad because the city was empty of people who normally commute there to go to work or school.

But Riffat Hussain, a professor at the Islamabad-based National Defense University, said the government mismanaged the situation by calling for people to demonstrate and not providing a venue to do so peacefully, such as a rally with religious and political leaders.

"The government thought that they were guiding the public sentiment," Hussain said. "In doing that they lost control."

Elsewhere on Friday, about 3,000 protesters in the southern Iraq city of Basra condemned the film and caricatures of the prophet that were published in a French satirical weekly. They burned Israeli and U.S. flags and raised a banner that read: "We condemn the offenses made against the prophet."

U.S. flags and effigies of Obama were burned by about 2,000 people in a protest following Friday prayers in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. They demanded that the United States ban the film.

In Bangladesh, more than 2,000 people marched in the capital, Dhaka, and burned a makeshift coffin draped in an American flag with an effigy of Obama. Small and mostly orderly protests were also held in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the Shiite Hezbollah movement held a raucous protest in the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek. Later, a few thousand supporters of a hard-line Sunni cleric gathered in the capital, Beirut. Both demonstrations directed outrage at the U.S. and Israel over what they believed was a grave insult to Muhammad.

Police clamped a daylong curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city of Srinagar and chased away protesters opposing the anti-Islam film. Authorities in the region also temporarily blocked cellphone and Internet services to prevent viewing the film clips.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West over the film and the caricatures in the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

"In return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech," Ahmadinejad said at a speech in Tehran. He said this explanation was "clearly a deception."

In Germany, the Interior Ministry said it was postponing a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam among young people due to tensions caused by the online video.

___

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad; Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan; Zaheer Babar in Lahore, Pakistan; Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan; Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India; Zeina Karam in Baalbek, Lebanon; and Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • The Latest: Trump changes course after denouncing protesters

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

      Associated Press
    • White House vows to fight media 'tooth and nail' over Trump coverage

      By Doina Chiacu and Jason Lange WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House vowed on Sunday to fight the news media "tooth and nail" over what it sees as unfair attacks, with a top adviser saying the Trump administration had presented "alternative facts" to counter low inauguration crowd estimates. On his first full day as president, Trump said he had a "running war" with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out Friday for his swearing-in. White House officials made clear no truce was on the horizon on Sunday in television interviews that set a much harsher tone in the traditionally adversarial relationship between the White House and the press corps.

      Reuters
    • Missile failure off Florida? British leader won't say

      LONDON (AP) — The British government is being accused of concealing the failure of an unarmed ballistic missile launch ahead of a debate in Parliament over whether to refurbish the country's aging Trident nuclear launching system.

      Associated Press
    • Inauguration crowds are looking puny compared to Women's March crowds

      Sorry, Trump, but these Women's March crowds are YUGE. Ladies from around the world got in formation to take part in the Women's March on Washington following Trump's inauguration, and the crowds are downright bigly. With attendance projections for the D.C. March now at over 500,000, many can't help but compare today's attendance to Friday's underwhelming inauguration numbers. SEE ALSO: Who pulled the bigger crowd: Trump or Obama? While hundreds of thousands did show up to watch Trump be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, visible empty bleachers and photos of Obama's packed 2009 inauguration ceremony,which had an estimated turnout of around 1.8 million, proved Trump's gathering was far from record setting. The March reportedly led to 1,000 more busses being booked than on Trump's big day, and photographs and video from today's events show D.C. bombarded with an overwhelming number of attendees. Though official inauguration numbers are unknown, the gorgeous sea of pink Pussyhats assembling at today's March certainly appeared to trump the president's crowds. If you want to see how massive the Women's March is, I'm standing at the back edge of the crowd, and I've marked the speaker's stage. pic.twitter.com/L47WgP2OuP — Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch in #DC view from the roof of VOA towards #USCapitol pic.twitter.com/JBY4MAhep3 — Niki Papadogiannakis (@nikipapadog) January 21, 2017 @JoyAnnReid @puffin98 Let's compare crowd size of Trump Inauguration v D.C. Women's March...樂 Mr Trump...you can't comb over racism! pic.twitter.com/Lz9Tn8PpZp — Sissy Victor (@sissyvictor40) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch Today vs. #Inauguration Yesterday pic.twitter.com/jFowSajc4Q — Austin Hunt (@AustinHunt) January 21, 2017 Photos of the Shady Grove Metro station currently. Hearing it's an hour wait to get on the train. O____o #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/YOaaQ41v1s — Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 21, 2017 What the same DC Metro station looked like on Inauguration Day vs. what it looks like today pic.twitter.com/gi8GBoqni5 — Freddie Campion (@FreddieCampion) January 21, 2017 On my way to cover #WomensMarch in DC and have not seen this station this busy even at peak rush hour before. Pink everywhere. pic.twitter.com/kYhxy66ttj — Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch We're not even in DC yet, and this metro station has a better crowd than the inauguration. pic.twitter.com/iXeJFqwtIJ — Emily Hecht (@emiblake) January 21, 2017 The fact that there are more people at the #WomensMarch than the #Inauguration gives me hope that we're all going to be alright. pic.twitter.com/GgNeEii2yB — David Thompson (@DavidMDT) January 21, 2017 Thanks to the National Mall Cam, a live video feed of the U.S. Capitol building, you can check out the huge crowds for yourself in real time. Inauguration Photo of Donald Trump's inauguration crowds on Jan. 20, 2017. Image: screengrab/earthcam Women's March Photo of Women's March on Washington crowds at 12:00 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2017. Image: screengrab/earthcam Uh oh, Trump. Looks like the women of the world are giving you some serious competition. BONUS: Trump's 2017 vs Obama's 2009: A brutal inaugural concert comparison

      Mashable
    • 'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

      Two snowboarders gripping them glide across the ice, pulled along by the drone before performing a series of high-speed turns and slides. The drone prototype is the work of Latvian specialists Aerones and they are putting their invention through its paces, with up to four snowboarders being dragged across the ice at a time. "It seems to be a successful test," says Janis Putrams, 35, wearing a broad grin, not least because as Aerones CEO he is in charge of the enormous remote control unit used to steer the drone's flight.

      AFP
    • At Least 4 Dead as Tornadoes Batter the Southeast

      Four people confirmed dead from twister in Mississippi.

      ABC News q
    • OPEC, allies says production cuts ahead of schedule

      VIENNA (AP) — OPEC and key non-OPEC oil producers are near their target of taking 1.8 million barrels of crude a day off global markets less than two months after agreeing to do so in efforts to push up the price of crude, Russia's energy minister said Sunday.

      Associated Press
    • China to prosecute former Tianjin mayor for suspected graft

      China will prosecute the former mayor of the northern city of Tianjin for suspected graft, the state prosecutor said on Sunday, taking a step that will almost certainly result in his conviction. Dozens of senior people have been investigated or jailed since President Xi Jinping assumed power four years ago, vowing to root out corruption, warning, like others before, that the problem threatens the Communist Party's grip on power. The party announced in September the investigation into Huang Xingguo, who had been mayor of the important port city - about an hour from Beijing - since 2008.

      Reuters
    • Discarded protest signs from the Women’s March in NYC (28 photos)

      Following the march in New York City, protesters left behind thousands of signs around Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Many signs left near a construction site were taken home by admirers as souvenirs. One group of placards was made into an art installation on East 57th Street, while many of these great signs were discarded near receptacles along Fifth Avenue waiting for sanitation. (Yahoo News) Photography by Gordon Donovan /Yahoo News _____ Related slideshows: Slideshow: Signs of the Women's March around the world >>> Slideshow: Women's March on Washington, D.C. >>> Slideshow: Women’s March around the world >>> Slideshow: How newspapers covered President's Trump inauguration >>> Slideshow: Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S. >>> Slideshow: Protests worldwide against the inauguration of Donald Trump >>> Slideshow: Obama's Washington >>> Slideshow: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day >>> Slideshow: 66 hands on 66 Bibles >>> See more news-related photo galleries , and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Melania Trump stuns in first lady fashion stakes

      First Lady Melania Trump stunned fashion watchers by donning a sleek, off-the-shoulder cream dress with a daring thigh-high slit to dance with President Donald Trump at the inaugural balls. The new first lady's sartorial picks for the inauguration went some way to silencing critics who have complained in the past that she favored high-end European clothes rather than American creations.

      AFP
    • Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him.

      Associated Press 15 min ago
    • In midst of Aleppo wreckage, a Syrian family returns home

      The street looks as if it was hit by an earthquake and the bombed-out building in a former rebel-held northeastern neighborhood of Aleppo is deserted — except for the second-floor apartment where Abdul-Hamid ...

      Associated Press
    • Gavin Rossdale Opens Up About Divorce From Gwen Stefani

      Gavin Rossdale opens up about relationship with ex-wife Gwen Stefani

      People
    • Syria rebels arrive in Astana for talks with regime

      Members of the Syrian opposition delegation arrived Sunday in the Kazakh capital Astana for face-to-face peace talks with the war-torn nation's government. The talks, set to begin on Monday, will be the first time a delegation composed exclusively of rebel groups will negotiate with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush flew into Astana on Sunday morning, according to an AFP correspondent who saw the delegation arrive.

      AFP
    • Budapest Mourns as 16 Die in Fiery Bus Crash on Italian Road

      The Hungarian students had just finished a week of skiing in France when their bus swerved right, then left, then hit a highway barrier and burst into flames

      ABC News q
    • At least 4 dead after Mississippi tornado: Why advance warning isn't always enough

      Rescue teams were searching for more victims in the area where the tornado struck, Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told the Associated Press, while Hattiesburg police were making door-to-door rounds. "Officials are working to ensure students are safe and accounted for.

      Christian Science Monitor
    • Maggie Roche of The Roches sister vocal trio dies at 65

      NEW YORK (AP) — Maggie Roche, the folk-rock singer-songwriter who since the mid-1970s had performed and recorded as a trio and in pairs with her two sisters, has died.

      Associated Press
    • White House claims largest crowd size in history, despite evidence to the contrary

      In striking comments, White House press secretary Sean Spicer used his first official statement on Saturday to castigate the media for what he claimed was “deliberately false reporting,” including reporting on the attendance at President Trump’s inauguration. Spicer was particularly incensed about photos shared on social media by members of the press comparing the crowd at Trump’s ceremony with those at inaugurations past. A number of reporters posted side-by-side photographs of the crowds amassed for the inauguration of Trump on Friday and for Barack Obama eight years before.

      Yahoo News
    • Twitter roasts Trump aide for calling lies 'alternative facts'

      In the world of fake news, now we also have "alternative facts."  On Saturday, President Donald Trump's first full day in office, his press secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he falsely claimed that the previous day's crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." SEE ALSO: Inauguration crowds are looking puny compared to Women's March crowds Spicer's false remarks instantly became a new meme and sent the internet into a fury. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press , where Chuck Todd grilled the Trump administration for spreading falsehoods on their first full day in office. In response, Conway called the falsehoods "alternative facts." "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r — Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017 Yes. Alternative facts. No, you aren't living in an alternative reality, this is real life.  The hashtag #AlternativeFacts quickly started trending on Twitter Sunday morning. Do you want your pilot using #alternativefacts about speed or altitude? — Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) January 22, 2017 President Trump was honored to have Prince and David Bowie perform at his inauguration. Springsteen cried. So jealous. #alternativefacts — Sean Spiceboy Spicer (@DatSpiceBoy) January 22, 2017 I'm using #alternativefacts on my bank loan application tomorrow.    — Robert Graves (@RggnycRobert) January 22, 2017 Wow #alternativefacts. This is so frightening. This is the scariest part of Trumps Presidency. When facts don't matter anymore we all lose. — Tracy Hardaway (@TracyMHardaway) January 22, 2017 I just saw Conway speak about #AlternativeFacts and I'm so completely disgustedNo, the worlds has facts. You don't get to create the truth — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 22, 2017 There is no racism. #AlternativeFacts — Judith Browne Dianis (@jbrownedianis) January 22, 2017 So now there is #alternativefacts....Oh.....ok. pic.twitter.com/oVxmLw0hQk — Benjamin Di'Costa (@BenjaminDiCosta) January 22, 2017 I have a mandate from the people. I care about you. I have divested from my businesses.I have the biggest crowds.#alternativefacts — Unpresidented (@UnpresidentedAF) January 22, 2017 In addition to Spicer complaining about the media's coverage of crowd size, Trump also complained during a briefing at the CIA headquarters on Saturday. "We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed," said Trump. "I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, they show an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there." There is no official estimate of the crowd size on inauguration day, but there are some simple facts to prove it wasn't "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration." According to the Washington Post , the D.C. Metro's ridership was "lower than that of an average weekday." About 570,557 people rode the Metro on Friday vs 1.1 million who rode it in 2009 during Obama's inauguration. According to Nielson, 31 million viewers watched the inauguration on TV, which is lower than both Obama and Ronald Reagan's first inaugurations. Spicer also claimed that magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration and prevented "hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in years past." A Secret Service spokesperson told CNN that magnetometers were not used during the inauguration. A USSS spokesperson tells us no magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration. — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 22, 2017 The floor coverings Spicer mentioned, that was also a lie. Or, ya know, alternative facts.  BONUS: Obama 'Hope' artist has a new set of powerful posters

      Mashable