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Heavy-handed security op against anti-France protesters fails in Pakistan

The supporters of religious and political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) march during a protest against the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in France and comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 7, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Javed Rana
Press TV, Islamabad

These are the scenes of early Monday morning in Pakistan. A heavy-handed operation by police had little impact on what appears to be determined protesters not willing to settle for anything short of expelling the French ambassador from Pakistan and officially boycotting French products.

The angry protesters outnumbered the security personnel, who resisted the takeover of a main traffic junction that links Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, with much of the country.

This is leftover ammunition, indicating the massive scale of a failed security operation, which left many protesters injured.

The government’s reluctance to expel the French ambassador has hardened their stance, which enjoys overwhelming public support over the republication and display of blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) under the official patronage of the French government.

Many have advised the government to hold negotiations with the protesters to avert the bloodshed that may occur in the event of more security operations against them.

Amnesty International has criticized the selective use of freedom of expression against Muslims in France. The Amnesty says France has been hiding “shameless hypocrisy” under the pretext of freedom of expression, the misuse of which now has become the biggest security problem in Pakistan like in many other Muslim countries.

Marco Pirolini, a researcher in Amnesty International, pointed out that French courts convict thousands of people every year over contempt of public officials, and not long ago, two men were prosecuted for burning an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron. Similarly a proposed law is under process to criminalize the display of images of law enforcement officials in a negative shade on social media. All this, he believes, exposes the double standards of France’s untenable defense of frequent incidents of blasphemy committed against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) under the pretext of the freedom of expression.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed not to give up supporting the publication of the blasphemous anti-Islamic cartoons, which has caused widespread public resentment all over the Muslim world.

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