Protests Over Muhammad Depictions Hit Pakistan, Afghanistan

Posted September 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Protests against the depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad continue, with demonstrators objecting to both an anti-Islam film made in the United States and caricatures published in a French satirical magazine.

Police clashed with protesters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where a crowd of about 1,000 students tried to reach a walled-off area of the city that houses foreign embassies and government offices. A VOA correspondent in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, said university students also gathered there to denounce America and to call on others to protest on Friday.

Pakistan's local media report that some 15,000 people are expected to march on Islamabad's diplomatic enclave Friday and that the government has called on the national army to protect the area.

Meanwhile in neighboring Afghanistan, hundreds of people marched in Kabul, chanting anti-American slogans during a peaceful protest.

In Iran, students shouted “death to France” as well as the United States as they protested outside the French embassy in Tehran.

The French weekly Charlie Hebdo featured several images of Muhammad in its Wednesday issue, including several of him naked.

In response to the magazine's actions, the French government announced it is closing its embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in 20 countries Friday as a precautionary measure.

The protests first erupted last week in response to the low-budget Internet video that insults Muhammad. During the protests, the American ambassador in Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.