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Pakistani protesters clash with police over film

Supporters of Islami Jamiat Talaba, a student wing of Pakistan religious and political party Jamaat-e-Islami, protest in Lahore on September 19, 2012. (REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Pakistanis angry at an anti-Islam film that denigrates the religion's prophet clashed with police in the Pakistani capital Thursday, the most violent show of anger in a day that saw smaller demonstrations in Indonesia, Iran and Afghanistan.

The vulgar depiction of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in an American-made movie has angered Muslims across the world, with many taking to the streets to rally against the film. In recent days, the decision by a French satirical magazine to release cartoons crudely depicting the prophet has added to the tension.

In Pakistan, a crowd of more than 1,000 people tried to make their way to the U.S. Embassy inside a guarded enclave that houses embassies and government offices.

Riot police used tear gas and batons to keep stone-throwing demonstrators away from the enclave, and hundreds of shipping containers were lined up to cordon off the area. Some protesters were students affiliated with the Islamist hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party.

The demonstrations are expected to grow in Pakistan on Friday, the traditional day of prayer in the Muslim world. The Pakistani government has called a national holiday for Friday so that people could come out and demonstrate peacefully against the film.

That decision drew rare words of praise from the Pakistani Taliban, which is usually at war with the government.

A spokesman for the militant group said it welcomed the decision but also thought the government should expel all American diplomats.

Violence over the amateurish movie, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, womanizer and child molester, has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. Two people have died in protests in Pakistan.

In Indonesia, the U.S. consulate in the country's third-largest city of Medan shut its doors Thursday for a second day because of demonstrations.

About 50 students from an Islamic university gathered in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province in Indonesia. They burned tires and forced a McDonald's restaurant to close. The door was later covered with a sign saying, "This must be closed as a symbol of our protest of the 'Innocence of Muslims' made in the U.S.," referring to the title of the film.

In Iran, hundreds of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran to protest the publication of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the French weekly.

Protesters chanted "Death to France" and "Down with the U.S." and burned the flags of the United States and Israel. The demonstration ended after two hours.

In Kabul, a few hundred people demonstrated in the downtown area against the film, chanting ant-American slogans before dispersing peacefully.

 

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