Markets were closed and roads deserted: people were staying inside, hoping the wrath of these Islamic supremacists wouldn’t fall upon them. “Violence as Pakistan strikes over blasphemy law,” by Hasan Mansoor for AFP, December 31 (thanks to Block Ness):
KARACHI, Pakistan (AFP) – Violence flared Friday as police and protesters clashed during a mass protest strike that closed businesses across Pakistan over a bid to end the death penalty for blasphemy.
Police said protesters near the home of unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari in the financial hub of Karachi pelted stones as they shouted slogans including “We’ll sacrifice our lives — we’ll save the sanctity of the Prophet”.
Teargas shells were fired to disperse them, while normally busy town centres turned quiet across the Muslim country, AFP reporters said, following a move to amend a law which permits death sentences for those found to have blasphemed.
Conservative religious groups called for a national strike after thousands of Islamists rallied in major cities last week against any change to the law, which rights campaigners say encourages Islamist extremism.
The strike went ahead despite a categorical announcement by deputy information minister Samsam Bokhari on Thursday that the government had no intention of amending the controversial law.
AFP reporters said markets were closed on Friday and roads deserted in the otherwise bustling cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and its neighbouring garrison town of Rawalpindi.
Demonstrators said their goal was to defend the honour of the Prophet Mohammed.
“Prophet Mohammed.” AFP, like all mainstream media outlets, has decided we’re all Muslims now.
“We will start a civil disobedience movement if the government makes any amendment to the law,” the chairman of influential Muslim grouping the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahebzada Fazal Karim, told AFP….