Students protest against blasphemous film


Police fired live rounds and tear gas Thursday to break up a crowd of around 1,000 students, many armed with wooden clubs, protesting in Islamabad against a US-made anti-Islam film.
The demonstrators were driven back by police as they tried to reach Islamabad’s heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave, which is home to most Western embassies, including the US, British and French missions.
The crudely made “Innocence of Muslims”, produced by US-based extremist Christians has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online, and more than 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the film.
There have been dozens of protests around Pakistan over the past week and at least two people have been killed, but Thursday is the first time protests in the capital have turned violent.
Police fired tear gas and live rounds as the protesters, chanting “We are ready to die to safeguard the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) honour,” tried to break through a barrier of truck containers set up to block access to the diplomatic enclave.
“I was ordered by my boss to disperse the crowd and that is why I had to open live fire but the aim was nearby trees and not the demonstrators,” Zaman Khan, a police officer deployed at the picket said.
The firing forced the protesters to scatter, but they returned later to pelt the police picket with stones.
Student Asif Mehmood demanded police let the protesters through to the US embassy and urged harsh treatment for American pastor Terry Jones.
“Terry Jones and the filmmaker should be sternly punished for playing with the feelings of Muslims. We will not tolerate this blasphemy,” Mehmood said.
Fellow protester Rehan Ahmad said: “Islam is often ridiculed by America and the West and blasphemy is committed against our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in the name of freedom of expression.”