(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Thousands of Muslims, from Pakistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian territories, poured out of prayer services to join anti-France protests on Friday, as the French president’s vow to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad continues to roil the Muslim world.
Demonstrations in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad turned violent as some 2,000 people who tried to march toward the French Embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. Crowds of Islamist activists hanged an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron from a highway overpass after pounding it furiously with their shoes. Several demonstrators were wounded in clashes with police and authorities deployed more security forces to protect the embassy.
In Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, thousands of worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, took to the streets, chanting anti-France slogans, raising banners and clogging major roads en route to a Sufi shrine. In Multan, a city in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, thousands more torched an effigy of Macron and called on Pakistan to sever ties with France and boycott French goods.
The protests come amid rising tensions between France and Muslim-majority nations, which flared up earlier this month when a young Muslim beheaded a French schoolteacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.