Thousands rally in Pakistan over film, cartoons
KARACHI (AFP) - At least 5,000 people rallied in the southern Pakistan port city of Karachi on Sunday to denounce a US-made anti-Islam film and the publication of blasphemous cartoons in France, police and witnesses said.
Police beefed up security for the rally, which was organised by the Sunni extremist group Ahle Sunnat wa Al-Jamaat, while paramilitary forces also deployed.
"Beheading is the only one punishment for blasphemy," read one banner. "We demand all French and US diplomatic missions shut in Pakistan," said another, as protesters shouted: "We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the honour of Prophet Mohammed!"
Senior police official Amir Lodhi said that "about 5,000 people were in the rally", adding that organisers made assurances they would not march towards the US consulate. The rally dispersed peacefully, an AFP reporter said.
The crudely made Innocence Of Muslims movie has sparked angry and at times violent demonstrations across the globe.
Meanwhile French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, further inflaming Muslim sentiment.
Pakistan experienced the worst of the violence over the film when nationwide rallies mobilised more than 45,000 earlier in September, many members of right-wing religious parties.
At least 21 people were killed and 229 wounded, mainly in clashes with police.