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.
Sharon Behn
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.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs