Violent clashes erupted on Friday at rallies in Pakistan to condemn new caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, officials said.wpid-clashesap3.jpg

Police fired rubber bullets and used baton charge to disperse hundreds of protesters when they tried to storm the French consulate in the southern city of Karachi, police official Pir Mohamed Shah said.

At least three people were injured in the clash between police commandos and members of the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami political party, Shah said.

Paramilitary soldiers were deployed to guard the building after the clashes, Shah said.

Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published its first edition after last week’s massacre at its Paris offices by Muslim extremists. The cover features a caricature of the prophet Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the headline “All is forgiven.”

A Pakistani photojournalist with the AFP news agency, Asif Hasan, was injured in the Karachi clashes, said doctor Seemi Jamali at the Junnah Hospital.

Hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets in other cities to protest against the caricatures, said Muhammad Naeem at the police monitoring centre in the capital Islamabad.

Activists from Islamic groups, workers of right-wing political parties, members of trade unions, lawyers and teachers were taking part in the rallies, Naeem said.

No violence has been reported at any other place, he said.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops were deployed to protect Western food chains, restaurants, supermarkets and official buildings, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said.

Several Islamic groups and right-wing political parties called for countrywide protests after Friday prayers to condemn the publication of the images.

Troops from the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary force were guarding the French embassy inside a walled diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, the city’s police chief Tahir Alam Khan said.

Angry protesters chanted slogan against Western blasphemers.

“I couldn’t stay silent and came to the rally with my son,” said Abdul Qadoos, a shopkeeper in the eastern city of Lahore, “The magazine has insulted our prophet.”

Pakistani lawmakers on Thursday passed a resolution condemning the new Charlie Hebdo edition and marched in front of the parliament building.

Past rallies in Pakistan to condemn images seen as insulting Islam were deadly.

Over a dozen people were killed in 2012 during protests against an online US movie deemed insulting to the prophet Mohammed.
GNA

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