September 22, 2012 in Nation/World

Pakistan hit by deadly riots

‘Day of Love’ overshadowed by anger over film
Sebastian Abbot Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A Pakistani protester scuffles with a police officer during clashes that erupted as demonstrators tried to approach the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

U.S. airs TV spots

In an attempt to tamp down the anger in Pakistan over an anti-Muslim film, 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.

ISLAMABAD – 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 least 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.

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.

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

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus