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Pakistan declares holiday for prophet in response to film

Pakistani lawyers enter the diplomatic enclave as they they attempt to reach the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Islamabad on September 19, 2012. AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government is to declare Friday a national holiday in honour of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, officials said Wednesday, in response to a US-made film deemed insulting to Islam.

The cabinet decided to make Friday an official "day of expression of love for the prophet" after discussing the "Innocence of Muslims" movie, which has triggered more than a week of violent protests across the Islamic world, a senior government official told AFP.

The move came after religious parties called for a day of protest on Friday to denounce the film.

The head of a leading Sunni party, the Sunni Tehreek, on Monday urged people across the country to close their businesses and hold rallies against the film, which was made by extremist Christians in the United States.

Sources said traders and transporters associations in the largest city and commercial hub Karachi had backed the call.

Around 500 protesting lawyers broke through a gate to Islamabad's heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave on Wednesday, chanting anti-US slogans and castigating the Pakistan government for its "criminal silence" over the film.

More than 30 people have been killed around the world during more than a week of attacks and violent protests linked to the controversial film, seen as insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan have all blocked access to YouTube, following the video-sharing website's failure to take down the film.

Wednesday also saw the publication by a French magazine of a series of provocative cartoons showing a nude Prophet Mohammed which are likely to further inflame Muslim anger.

 

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