“The message we want to convey to the international community by observing Friday as a protest day … is that we cannot tolerate any kind of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad.” Don’t worry. Blasphemy laws are coming to the West.
“Pakistan declares Friday a day of protest against anti-Islam film,” from the Los Angeles Times, September 19 (thanks to Benedict):
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan “” Pakistan continued to seethe Wednesday over the release in the U.S. of a movie trailer mocking Islam, as legions of protesters rallied in several large cities for a sixth day and the government signaled its own discontent by declaring Friday as a national day “of peaceful protest.”
Officials said the move was meant to show the government’s solidarity with the Muslim world and its anger over the film, which depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a thug. Friday will be observed as a national holiday, and protests are expected to be held across the country.
“The message we want to convey to the international community by observing Friday as a protest day … is that we cannot tolerate any kind of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Though U.S. leaders have denounced the film, Pakistanis have continued to channel their anger toward the American government. Throngs of protesters in Karachi and Lahore in recent days have tried to reach U.S. consulates in those cities.
On Wednesday, a group of Pakistani lawyers broke through a gate leading to a heavily secured enclave in Islamabad that houses the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions. The lawyers burned American flags and staged a short sit-in on an enclave road, but were kept by police from marching on the embassy compound….
“I call upon the people of Pakistan to register their protest peacefully, observe restraint and refrain from damaging their own property,” Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday.
Kaira acknowledged Washington’s condemnation of the film, but he also urged the U.S. and other nations to enact laws to prevent the release of blasphemous material in the future. “We cannot accept any sort of argument that the blasphemous film is … freedom of expression or freedom of speech,” Kaira said.
Earlier this week, Pakistani authorities shut down YouTube, the website that carried a video trailer of the film.