Showing its strength in Karachi, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) organised a huge anti-France rally on Saturday to condemn French President Emmanuel Macronâs act of defending the publication of blasphemous sketches of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
The party announced that it would organise a procession from the Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi to Faizabad to press the government to send back the French ambassador in Islamabad and recall Pakistanâs ambassador from Paris.
The hours-long procession, led by the TLP chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, started from the Star Gate near the Karachi airport and culminated at the Mazar-e-Quaid after passing through Sharea Faisal.
At one stage, the processionâs head was at Karsaz and its tail was on the Natha Khan Bridge (Drig Road), said an eyewitness.
The rally caused traffic jams on the main thoroughfare and linked roads for several hours.
Rizvi, Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee chief Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, TLP leaders Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi, Allama Ghulam Ghous Sabri, Sindh Assembly members Mufti Qasim Fakhri, Muhammad Younas and Soomro, Karachi leaders Sufi Yahya Qadri and Mufti Abid Mubarak, and others also spoke to the protesters.
The protesters chanted slogans against the French president and castigated the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France. They were also carrying banners inscribed with slogans including the one that said that âwe will sacrifice everything for upholding the sanctity of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)â.
Rizvi said that the Pakistani nation was ready to sacrifice and would never allow anyone to bring into disrepute the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
He called for a boycott of all French products, urging the government to call back Pakistanâs foreign mission from France and expel the French ambassador in Islamabad.
The TLP chief also called upon the Muslims to get united to counter anti-Islam activities.
Other leaders said that the Muslim rulers must come forward to stop people in Western countries from making drawings that hurt the sentiments of the Muslims across the globe.
They said that it was duty of every Muslim to defend and fight for the honour of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
A day earlier, the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl had staged anti-France rallies in different parts of Karachi to protest against French President Emmanuel Macronâs act of defending the publication of blasphemous cartoons.
The protesters, in the two rallies on Friday, were seen carrying banners inscribed with different slogans, including one that read: âWe will sacrifice everything for upholding the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).â
The PST started its anti-France rally from Numaish Chowrangi in which a large number of the partyâs supporters were present. PST chief Sawat Ijaz Qadri led the rally, while protesters burned effigies of Franceâs leader and chanted anti-French slogans.
PST leaders, in their speeches, demanded a complete boycott of all French products as well as urged the government to call back Pakistanâs foreign mission in France and ask the French ambassador in Islamabad to leave the country.
âPromoting hate against any religion or community isnât freedom of speech,â Qadri said. He asked the government to sever diplomatic ties with France and âtake legal action against all French interests in Pakistan, including its companies and productsâ.
On the other hand, the JUI-F held its protest outside the Karachi Press Club to condemn the publication of the blasphemous sketches in France and demand of the government to take âsolid action in this regardâ.