Protests over blasphemous movie swell
JALALABAD (PAN): Protests against a blasphemous movie spread across several Afghan cities on Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking highways, burning the US president’s effigies and demanding the death penalty for the moviemaker.
Reportedly produced by an American-Israeli real estate investor, the movie has been endorsed by the same Christian pastor who last year attempted to burn copies of the Holy Quran in the US.
After the release of the film, Muslims have staged protests in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries. One violent protest in the Libyan city of Benghazi city led to the death of four Americans last week, including the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
Enraged by the movie, nearly 1,000 university students staged a demonstration in the Daronta area of eastern Nangarhar province. The mob that emerged around 8:30 am blocked the Kabul-Jalalabad highway for one hour.
The protesters burnt the US flag and effigies of President Barrack Obama and the film producer. They were changing slogans against the US and asking the Afghan government to cut off ties with America.
Attiq-ur-Rahman, one of the organisers, told Pajhwok Afghan News their main demand was the US government award death penalty to the film producer. He said they would continue to protest until their demand was met.
A second year student of the engineering faculty, Baryalai, said they wanted the Afghan government to cut off relations with the US before 2014, when most of foreign combat troops are to leave the country.
Surkhrod district chief Syed Ali Akbar Sadat said an alternative route had been provided for passenger vehicles along the Nangarhar canal from Daronta to the district square.
The protestors issued a resolution, urging Muslim judges to press for the trial of the video producers in an international court. They also asked the Afghan government and the Muslim world at large to snap diplomatic ties to the US.
Separately, hundreds of people rallied against the film in the Alingar district of neighbouring Laghman province, said the governor’s spokesman, Sarhadi Zwak.
Elsewhere, more than a thousand students staged a peaceful protest on the university campus in northern Jawzjan province. “We want the government to convey our message to the US that we want harsh punishment for the filmmaker,” said a protesting student, Safiullah.
He added it was not the first time that Islam had been insulted by a Westerner. He warned of more protests if the US did not act against the moviemaker or failed to prevent such profane actions in the future.
Jawzjan University Chancellor Gul Ahmad Fazli said the administration had declared Wednesday as a day off due to the demonstration.
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