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TLP Allowed To Block Rawalpindi Roads In Protest Against French Cartoons

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Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) held a demonstration in Rawalpindi to protest the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reprint ‘blasphemous caricature of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)’.

The republication of the controversial cartoons by the magazine marked the start of the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the 2015 attack on the newspaper’s offices in Paris that resulted in the death of 12 people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, reported British newspaper Daily Mail.

In order to stop the rally that was supposed to culminate at Faizabad, the Rawalpindi district administration blocked the major arteries of the city with containers to dissuade the demonstrators from reaching the intersection, the same spot where the party held sit-in a few years ago. In 2017, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi led thousands of protesters to hold a weeks-long sit-in at Faizabad intersection after a ‘clerical’ error led to some changes in lawmakers’ oath-taking forms.

Addressing the participants of the rally, TLP leader Syed Inayatul Haq Shah criticised the district administration for placing ‘obstruction in the path of the protesters’ who were supposed to hold a sit-in at Faizabad after a day-long march.

Shah said the administration will have to ‘explain’ its decision to place containers on the roads as the rally was taken out to protect ‘sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Alluding to the 2017 sit-in that had paralysed, he said the TLP protesters wanted to reach Faizabad as this place holds an important place in their hearts. According to the cleric, the TLP has ‘kept alive the mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’.

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According to reports, the TLP decided to end its protest after successful negotiations with the district administration. It decided not to hold a sit-in at Faizabad.

TLP holds countrywide protests:

On Friday, tens of thousands of people protested across Pakistan against French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s reprinting of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), chanting ‘Death to France’ and calling for boycotts of French products.

Friday’s protests were organized by the hardline Islamist TLP party with rallies held in Karachi, the country’s largest city, as well as in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore and Dera Ismail Khan. According to Reuters, the cartoons triggered outrage and unrest among Muslims around the world in 2005 when they first published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Similar rallies held in Pakistan in 2015 turned violent, with scores injured as police clashed with protesters trying to make their way to the French consulate in Karachi.

Pakistan condemns cartoons:

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a video message that he condemned Charlie Hebdo’s action.

Qureshi said the South Asian country believed in freedom of expression but such liberty does not mean a license to offend religious sentiment. He added that he had lodged a protest with the French ambassador in Islamabad. He said:

‘The published caricatures have hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims. ‘I hope that this despicable act will not be repeated and those responsible for it will be taken to a court of law.’

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