ISLAMABAD - Protests over an anti-Muslim film turned violent on Friday, September 21, across Pakistan as more than 6 people were killed when police firing tear gas and live ammunition to block thousands of demonstrators from reaching US embassy.
"Participating in the procession is submitting to the will of Allah almighty, that's why I am participating," 16-year-old protester Sami Ullah told Agence France Presse (AFP).
I would prefer to die to safeguard the honor of my beloved Prophet.
Tens of thousands of Pakistani people joined protests following Friday weekly prayer in several cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan and Muzaffarabad to protest US-made anti-Islam film.
The film, entitled Innocence of Muslims, portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur'an.
The film triggered protests in several countries around the world, which left at least 14 people dead, including the US ambassador in Libya.
Friday's protests were encouraged by the Pakistani government which declared Friday a "day of love for the prophet."
The foreign ministry also summoned the US chargÃ© d'affaires to lodge a protest over the video posted on YouTube.
"It is our collective responsibility to protest peacefully without causing harm or damage to life or property," said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as shops, markets and petrol stations shut en masse in an unprecedented closure.
The bloodiest unrest erupted in the southern city of Karachi, where three policemen and two protesters were killed and 112 people wounded, according to Allah Bachayo Memon, spokesman of the chief minister of Sindh province.
He said about 20 vehicles, three banks and five cinemas were set on fire.
Crowds set two cinemas ablaze and ransacked shops in the northwestern city of Peshawar, clashing with riot police who fired tear gas.
At least five protesters were hurt and the ARY television station said an employee had been killed.
Security forces fired in the air in Peshawar and the eastern city of Lahore to keep protesters away from US consulates. Police fired tear gas at about 1,000 protesters in Islamabad.
Rejecting the movie for outraging Muslims, a United Nations official criticized its producers for provoking violence that has led to a total of about 30 deaths so far.
"Both the film and the cartoons are malicious and deliberately provocative," Rupert Colville, spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, told a news briefing in Geneva.
The film particularly portrays a disgracefully distorted image of Muslims.
Adding more salt to Muslims pains, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons last Wednesday displaying a man said to be the prophet as naked.
Entitled Muhammad: a star is born, one caricature depicts a bearded figure crouching over to display naked buttocks and genitals, a star covering his anus.
A second cartoon, in reference to the scandal over a French magazine's decision to publish topless photos of the wife of Britain's Prince William, showed a topless, bearded character with the caption: "Riots in Arab countries after photos of Mrs. Muhammad are published."
Colville added that Pillay upheld people's right to protest peacefully.
"In the case of Charlie Hebdo, given that they knew perfectly what happened in response to the film last week, it seems doubly irresponsible on their part to have published these cartoons," Colville said of the French magazine.
Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.
Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnation from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.
Yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the film saying the offensive material abuses the right to freedom of expression.
The UN chief said he strongly criticizes the "senseless" people who "fan the flames of this intolerance and hatred using these kinds of opportunities."