As tension rises, thousands of Muslims protest French cartoons | France

People are concerned by renewed support in France for the right to show caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Thousands of Musli...

People are concerned by renewed support in France for the right to show caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Thousands of Muslims in Pakistan poured out of prayer services to join anti-France protests on Friday, as the French president’s pledge to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad continues to roil the Muslim world.

An estimated 2,000 worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet, took to the streets in the eastern city of Lahore. Crowds chanted anti-France slogans, raised banners and clogged main roads en route to a Sufi shrine.

Dozens cried for the boycott of French products. In Multan, a city in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, thousands demanded that Pakistan sever ties with France.

Police were out in force to prevent possible demonstrations outside the French embassy in the capital, Islamabad. The atmosphere was tense as police positioned shipping containers to block the roads.

Protests were also held in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, while in Afghanistan, members of Hezb-i-Islami set the French flag ablaze. Its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, warned French President Emmanuel Macron that if he does not “control the situation, we are going to a third world war and Europe will be responsible”.

The protests come amid rising tensions between France and Muslim-majority nations, which flared up earlier this month when Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” globally.

The rift widened after a man beheaded a French teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet in class.

While Muslims have condemned the killing, they fear a crackdown targeting Muslim organisations and are upset by the renewed support for the right to show the cartoons, which often suggest Islam and “terrorism” are linked.

Those images were republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial for the deadly 2015 attack against the publication.

France was sent into further shock on Thursday, when a knife-wielding Tunisian man killed three people at a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice. That same day, a Saudi man stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Leaders of many Muslim countries offered their condolences to France after the attack and expressed their solidarity as they condemned the violence.

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Newsrust: As tension rises, thousands of Muslims protest French cartoons | France
As tension rises, thousands of Muslims protest French cartoons | France
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