France urged all Pakistani citizens to leave the country temporarily in a fierce anti-French protest across the country.
In an email received by the French news agency AFP, the embassy of the country in Pakistan warned of “a serious threat to France’s interests in Pakistan.”
Two police officers died this week in a new clash with protesters.
Protests were triggered a few months ago after a French magazine republished the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has upset Pakistani hardliners and defended the right to publish magazines.
The portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad is widely regarded as taboo in Islam and is considered by many Muslims to be very aggressive.
Protests escalated this week after the Pakistani government arrested Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the hardline party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), who demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador.
Thousands of party supporters protested on the streets of Pakistan following Mr. Lizbi’s arrest and a move by Pakistani authorities to ban TLP. Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons at the crowd.
TLP has previously gathered a large number of people to protest the blasphemy problem. Under Pakistani law, those convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad may face the death penalty.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said at a press conference Wednesday that the country was “in favor of preserving the honor of the Prophet,” but TLP demanded that “Pakistan could be described as a globally radical country. “.
In an email sent Thursday, the French Embassy in Pakistan said: “French citizens and French businesses are advised to leave the country temporarily due to a serious threat to France’s interests in Pakistan.
“Departures are made by existing commercial airlines.”
In France, national secularism (laïcité) is central to the country’s national identity. Freedom of expression in schools and other public places is part of it, and curbing freedom of expression to protect the emotions of a particular religion is considered to undermine public cohesion.
Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that was the target of a deadly jihadist attack on the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in Paris in 2015, also ridicules other religions, including Catholicism and Judaism.
Macron’s comment, which supports the magazine’s right to publish comics, is angry throughout the Islamic world, with tens of thousands of people flooding the streets in Pakistan, neighboring Iran and other Islamic countries and organizing an anti-French boycott. Caused.
The TLP temporarily suspended protests in Pakistan in November, claiming that the government minister had agreed to boycott French products.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan criticized Mr Macron, but denied that the government had agreed to the boycott and said no decision had been made.
TLP is the political arm of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) movement.
The case, led by Mr. Lizbi, became famous for opposition to the hanging of police officer Mumtaz Qadri, who was killed in 2011 after Governor Salman Taseer of Punjab spoke against the country’s blasphemy law.
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