Pakistani protesters clash with police on Muslim “Day of Love”
Western diplomatic missions throughout the Muslim world tightened security, with some closing down on expectation of big protests after Friday prayers.
An anti-Islam film made in America has enraged Muslims and led to days of protests across the Muslim world while cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad published in a French magazine on Wednesday were expected to compound the anger.
Egypt’s highest Islamic legal official said on Thursday Muslims should follow his example of enduring insults without retaliating.
But the call looked unlikely to calm the outrage.
“An attack upon the Holy Prophet is an attack on the whole 1.5 billion Muslims. Therefore, this is something unacceptable,” Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said in a speech to politicians, religious leaders and others.
Pakistan has declared Friday a “Day of Love for the Prophet Mohammad”. Critics of the unpopular government said it was pandering to Islamist parties.
Protesters took to the streets of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, an old frontier town on the main road to Afghanistan, and torched two cinemas and clashed with riot police who tried to disperse them with teargas.
At least five protesters were hurt, a doctor at the city’s main hospital said. The ARY television station said an employee had been killed.
Near the capital, Islamabad, protesters set fire to a motorway toll booth. The previous day, about 1,000 stone-throwing protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the U.S. embassy.
The government shut down mobile phone services in more than a dozen cities as part of security arrangements ahead of protests expected on Friday.
The U.S. embassy in Pakistan has been running television advertisements, one featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the government had nothing to do with the film.