Stranded car dealers at a car bond owned by Pakistanis. Photo: by Wilfred Sanya

By David Mugabe and Innocent Anguyo

Car dealers in gazetted bonds mainly owned by Pakistani nationals this morning closed their sales points in Kampala in protest to US-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

?No doing business, we want to carry out the one day protest in a peaceful way,? said Imran Ahmed, managing director of Gondal Motors at Coin internal car deport.

There were banners pinned on most of the gates of the car bonds on Jinja road including Coin and Jambo, Cosmos. Besides the words condemning the movie, there was also a symbolic picture of a bleeding hand spiked by arrows. Above the hand was an Arabic word said to mean Mohammed. The Pakistani car dealers said the hand symbolized their defence of the prophet under attack (arrows).

There are 15 bonds on the outskirts of the city centre. Imran said the entire 15 bonds sell about 100 cars daily some as re-exports to neighbouring Rwanda, eastern DRC and southern Sudan.

At various points, car dealers and middlemen who operated in car depots owned by Pakistanis were stranded at the gates as the depots were locked.

Salesmen however condemned the strike saying it derails their business and makes them lose customers to competitors.

?Their car bonds have remained closed and they have achieved their objective but we end up being the main losers. We have not made any sales today because our cars are locked inside, yet, we have to pay rent, school fees and even buy food,? said Joseph Kisasizi, the chairman of car salesmen at Coin Limited based in Nakawa.

Geoffrey Masikini from Arua who travelled to Kampala to buy a salon car was left stranded as he could not access and inspect the vehicle saying, ?I had paid a deposit on the car and I was planning to complete the remaining money today so that I could drive back homw in it but now I have to spend another day before I can take it?.

Despite closure of business for the day, Simon Muhwana of Jambo Auto Mart in Kyambogo revealed that the Pakistanis still asked them to pay the daily car parking rent of about shs 10000.

The businessmen urge government to revoke the licenses of the depots that participated in the strike.

Zeeshan Arshad, from Jambo said the 5,000 Pakistani were asked to close their shops and businesses in protest.

?Today we join our fellow brothers and sisters around the world in condemning the blasphemous movie. We want the U.S and French Embassies in Uganda to come out and apologise for the movie. We also want action taken against the producer of the movie and the French cartoonist,? said Imran.

These included pharmacies, foreign exchange bureaus, sports equipment shops, hardware outlets and construction businesses. They however said they had not informed any local authorities on their planned actions.

The low-budget film ?Innocence of Muslims? was reportedly produced by an Egyptian Coptic Christian.
Most of the protests have been in the Middle East and North Africa. But there were also incidences in Nigeria. The crudely-made film has stirred outrage across the Islamic world, with protests reported in more than 20 countries and over 50 people killed in attacks or demonstrations.

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