LAHORE  - Like other parts of the globe, protests against the publication of blasphemous sketches by a French magazine – Charlie Hebdo, were held across the country on Friday.

Various religious and political parties including the minorities condemned the act of the magazine in the name of freedom of expression.

On the call of Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehrike Hurmate Rasool (SAW) and Jammatud Dawa (JD), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and other parties held protest rallies and processions in the federal capital, Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and the other parts of the country.

The participants in large number chanted slogans against French government and accused the magazine and called upon the Muslim world to take stern steps against the French and other governments which published or supported the publication of blasphemous caricatures.

The participants vowed to render every sacrifice to safeguard the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The JI organised rallies on the call of party chief Sirajul Haq in Islamabad and other cities including a major rally at front of Mansora- the JI head-office at Lahore.  Addressing the rally, the JI chief announced million marches in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi next Friday in continuation of the protest. He also stressed upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to call for an emergency meeting of the Muslim rulers to lodge protest with the French government on this score and to stress upon the United Nations to frame laws ensuring respect for all the Prophets of God and all the revealed books.

The JI chief appreciated the statement of Pope Francis and the German Chancellor slating blasphemous caricatures and expressed the hope that the Pontiff would play his role in saving Europe from vast destruction as a result of the Muslims reaction against blasphemy. He also demanded the French government to tender an apology to the Muslim world on the issue.

Earlier, addressing the Friday congregation at Mansoora, Sirajul Haq warned that the anti- Islam policies of the west could plunge the world into the third world war. He said that the respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was an essential part of a Muslim’s faith and every Muslim would be too willing to offer his life for this cause.

Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed announced holding a rally from Nasir Bagh to Masjide Shuhada on Sunday (tomorrow) and organize countrywide Ulema convention the same day.

In Lahore, the biggest protest rally was staged after Friday prayers at Chowk Chauburji which was attended by ulema, students, lawyers, traders, civil society and the people from other walks of life. Hafiz Saeed called the blasphemy biggest act of terrorism in the world and announced widening countrywide protest movement against the publication blasphemous caricatures.

He called upon the government to immediately summon a meeting of all Islamic countries for chalking out a strategy for international legislation for safeguarding the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Protestors, carrying placards and banners, showed their anger and chanted slogans against the blasphemers and demanded death plenty for them.  

The JuD chief said that the West was triggering clash of civilizations as 40 European countries were united to show solidarity with the blasphemous caricatures. He said that these blasphemous caricatures had hurt the emotions and religious sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world. Hafiz Saeed welcomed the resolution passed by the National Assembly against the blasphemous caricatures and protest rally by parliamentarians outside the assembly building.

Leaders of other political and religious parties of Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool also addressed the protest rally in Chuburji Chowk. Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool and Jamaat-ud-Dawah also held peaceful protests in other cities of the country including Multan, Sukkar, Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Islamabad against the blasphemous caricatures.

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Tehreek-e-Minajul Quran held protest rally and the PAT leaders addressing the workers said that the Organization of Islamic States should demand the United Nations to pass a law in which freedom of speech should be tempered by respect for faith and all religions and that freedom of speech is a right that must be displayed without offending any other religion.

The speakers included PAT President Dr Raheeq Ahmed Abbasi, acting Nazim Minajul Quran GM Malik, Faizur Rehman Durrani and others.

Students of all the seminaries and religious parties including JUI-F, JUI-S, Jamaat-e-Ahlhadith, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Jamaa-e-Ehle-Sunnat Pakistan and other parties held protests against the blasphemous act of the magazine.