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Pakistan: violent clashes between anti-France demonstrators and the police

2021-04-13T20:46:47.642Z

The TLP, an Islamist party, has been calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador since Emmanuel Macron defended the right to caricature during the tribute paid to Samuel Paty.



Violent clashes pitted the Pakistani police against thousands of supporters of a radical Islamist party on Tuesday (April 13th), who have been demonstrating since the day before to denounce the arrest of their leader after he had demanded the expulsion of the ambassador of France.

Read also: In Pakistan, the last pagans of Central Asia

In Lahore (east), the second largest city in the country, two police officers died after being injured in clashes with protesters, police said.

The influential extremist movement Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) also claimed that three of its activists were killed, a report not confirmed by police.

TLP supporters reacted with anger to the arrest Monday in Lahore of their leader Saad Rizvi, blocking several major crossroads in this city, but also in the capital Islamabad and Karachi, the largest metropolis in the country (south).

Saad Rizvi, son of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the founder of TLP, who died in November, was arrested hours after calling for a march on April 20 in Islamabad to demand the expulsion of the French ambassador in connection with the publication in France of caricatures of Muhammad.

Pakistani police said Saad Rizvi had been charged under anti-terrorism law.

The TLP has been calling for the expulsion of the ambassador since French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right to cartoon in the name of freedom of expression, during the tribute to a teacher killed on October 16 after showing satirical drawings to his class.

These events took place in the wake of the new publication of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by the French weekly

Charlie Hebdo

.

Saad Rizvi criticized the government for failing to honor an agreement to expel the French diplomat, which was reportedly reached after three days of violent TLP protests last year in the capital.

The authorities have never acknowledged the existence of such an agreement.

The TLP, an extremist party that instrumentalizes the burning issue of blasphemy in Pakistan, is known for its ability to mobilize supporters and block roads for days on end.

ASIF HASSAN / AFP

The TLP, an extremist party that instrumentalizes the burning issue of blasphemy in Pakistan, is known for its ability to mobilize supporters and block roads for days on end.

Pakistan often tends to avoid confrontation with radical Islamist groups, lest it further fuel violence in this deeply conservative country.

The demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday also had the consequence of affecting the oxygen supply of hospitals receiving Covid-19 patients.

Please don't block the roads for ambulances and hospital visitors.

Some ambulances carry oxygen tanks, which are absolutely essential for patients with Covid,

”argued Yasmin Rashid, a senior health official in the province of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital.

Dr Asad Aslam, head of the fight against Covid for the Punjab, told AFP that some hospitals had faced a lack of oxygen on Monday evening, but that the situation had stabilized on Tuesday morning after the authorities managed to clear some roads.

Pakistan is grappling with a deadly third wave of the pandemic and lacks vaccines.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-04-13

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