SHAFAQNA – Thousands of people have staged separate demonstrations in Afghanistan to condemn the recent publication of a blasphemous cartoon of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad by the French weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
At least 20,000 flooded the streets in the western Afghan city of Herat, located 810 kilometers (503 miles) west of the capital, Kabul, after Friday prayers. The demonstrators set French flags ablaze, chanted slogans against French officials, and called upon the government in Paris to apologize to Muslims for Charlie Hebdo’s sacrilegious move.
“No Muslim can tolerate insults to our beloved Prophet Mohammed, we demand the French government apologize to all Muslims and punish those who have insulted Islam,” one protester said.
Protesters staged a similar rally in Kabul, where a number of demonstrators hurled stones at the French embassy. The assault prompted security forces standing guard at the site to fire one or two warning shots.
In the recent past, angry protesters in other countries, including Niger, Yemen, Pakistan, as well as the Indian-controlled Kashmir region have staged similar demonstrations to condemn Charlie Hebdo.
On January 14, the French magazine, whose Paris office was attacked by two gunmen on January 7, once again published a cartoon of the Prophet on the cover of its new edition despite warnings that the move is provocative.
The January 7 attack is largely believed to have been launched over Charlie Hebdo’s previous cartoons of the Prophet.
The weekly has repeatedly provoked Muslim anger by publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an extremist militant group based in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo.