Anti-Blasphemy rally turns violent in Karachi

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SHAFAQNA – An anti-Blasphemy protest staged by the student wing of the Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami turned violent when a clash took place between the protesters and police near French Consulate in the posh area of Clifton’s Bath Island on Friday. Security forces resorted to aerial firing, tear gas and water cannons to push back the charged mob.

A photo journalist, Asif Hassan became the victim of crossfire while covering the event. Three students were also affected by tear gas shelling. Another journalist was also injured in the clashes.

“Agence France-Presse photographer Asif Hasan was wounded due to protesters firing,” Abdul Khalique Shaikh, a senior police officer in Karachi, told the press.

Under the aegis of the IJT, Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, hundreds of people had gathered at Three Swords Traffic Intersection to register their protest against the publication of a blasphemous cartoon aimed at disrespecting Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (Peace Be upon Him) by French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Assisted by paramilitary force Pakistan Rangers, Karachi police had blocked all the roads leading to the French consulate and tried their level best to prevent them from marching towards the consulate. The protesters were seen carrying batons in order to avoid police action.

Eye-witnesses said that Asif was standing near police cops and he was shot from the direction of the protestors and police officials also made clear that they had not fired upon the protestors and their retaliation came after the cameraman was shot.

“Photo journalist Asif Hassan’s blood pressure and sugar is normal. We hope he is not out of danger but operation goes on,” Dr Seemi Jamali, spokesman for government-run Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) said.

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