News / Asia

    Violent Protests Spread Across Pakistan Over Video

     Protesters shout slogans as they march towards the U.S. Embassy during an anti-America rally in Islamabad, September 21, 2012.
    Protesters shout slogans as they march towards the U.S. Embassy during an anti-America rally in Islamabad, September 21, 2012.
    Pakistan's government summoned a U.S. diplomat Friday, as violent demonstrations sparked by an anti-Islamic film privately produced in the United States erupted across the country. At least 13 people have been killed in the protests.

    Despite calls from government and religious leaders for peaceful protests, angry demonstrators hurled rocks at riot police, pushed against metal containers blocking the roads and pulled back razor wires set up to curtail their movement. Police responded with tear gas and gunfire.

    Outrage at the film in many cases turned into anger at America, which many here see as supporting the Internet video, even though the U.S. government has repeatedly stated it had nothing to do with the film. Two banks and a cinema were torched and dozens injured in the protests.

    In the eastern city of Lahore, thousands denounced those behind the film as blasphemers, waving posters calling for their death. Some held up copies of the Quran, as others waved sticks, swords and flags and posters saying: "America destroyed world peace" and "Kill the blasphemers, cut their throats, spill their blood."

    Qari Yaqoob Sheikh, one of the leaders of the Islamist Jamaat-ut-Dawa organization marching in Lahore, called on U.S. President Barack Obama to arrest those behind the production.

    He says: "This is an insult, and we condemn the movie, and the American government should arrest and hang Sam Bacile and all the actors in the movie, or our protests will continue."

    Some protestors hanged and burned effigies of Bacile, the supposed producer of the film, beating the fire with sticks.

    Retired wing commander Zulfiqar Baig, wearing a yellow T-shirt with the words "murder" and "pigs" written on it, said he was not against any country, but stood against anyone who defamed Islam.

    "They have to be murdered," said Baig.

    In the capital Islamabad, police fought back thousands of protestors trying to force their way into the capital and the diplomatic enclave that houses different embassies, including the U.S. mission to Pakistan.

    • On a road leading to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, protesters shout slogans against the anti-Islam film made in the U.S. mocking the Prophet Muhammad, September 21, 2012.
    • Afghan university students burn a U.S. flag in the Surkhrod district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, September 19, 2012.
    • Protesters use sticks to smash the windscreen and windows of a car during an anti-America protest march in Islamabad September 20, 2012.
    • A protester covers his face in front of tear gas during clashes with riot police along a road at Kornish El Nile leading to the U.S. embassy, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, September 15, 2012.
    • Pakistani police officers stand guard as Pakistani lawyers chant slogans near the area that houses the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 19, 2012.
    • A riot policeman keeps watch during a demonstration in Kabul, September 21, 2012.
    • Kashmiri medical students protest against the anti-Islam film in Srinagar, India, September 19, 2012.
    • A Muslim man holds up a placard during a protest against the anti-Islam film in Jammu, India September 21, 2012.
    • Muslim demonstrators are seen through a flag as they shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest in Chennai, September 18, 2012.
    • Pakistani activists of the hard line Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) burn a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Peshawar, September 18, 2012.
    • Muslim demonstrators hold a defaced poster of U.S. President Barack Obama during an anti-U.S. protest in Chennai, September 18, 2012.
    • Protesters set fire to trees in the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunis September 14, 2012. 

    Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says it summoned U.S. envoy Richard Hoagland to register a strong protest against the video. Hoagland said the American government condemned the video, which he described as a "deeply insensitive."

    But the U.S. government's distancing itself from the amateur production that mocks the Prophet Muhammad is not likely to appease the people of Pakistan, who feel the movie is just the latest in a series of incidents seen as offensive to Islam.

    Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said the movie was an example of hate speech. He called upon the international community to put an end to material deemed offensive to Islam.

    "We are demanding that the United Nations and other international organizations seek a law that bans such hate speech aimed at fomenting hatred and sowing the seeds of discord through such falsehoods, which is a grave violation of all basic norms of humanity," said Ashraf.

    But some of the protestors also expressed their anger at their own government, calling for Pakistan President Asif ali Zardari to step down, and calling him a dog, an insult in Muslim culture.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora