On Monday, September 17, the Pakistan Telecom Authority had ordered access to the anti-Islam film roiling parts of the world blocked from Pakistan. According to AFP Pakistan, attempts to access YouTube is met with a message saying the website had been classed as containing “indecent material.”
Yet, Russia Today reports that on Wednesday, September 19, several hundred lawyers (good grief, lawyers!) protesting over this same film now blocked in Pakistan have broken into the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad that houses the US Embassy and other foreign missions. The report says that police stopped the demonstrators before they could reach the US Embassy, which is surrounded by another set of high walls and protected by security guards. Protesters chanted slogans such as: “Down With America” and “Whoever is a friend of America is a traitor” as they forced their way through a gate into the enclave.
I saw the lawyers’ protest and thought ominous this development. Because if we could not expect lawyers, officers of the legal system to exercise prudence and restraint in the face of some great perceived offense, what can we expect from non-lawyers?
Today, September 21, officially declared a national Pakistani holiday – the “Love for the Prophet Day”, shows just what a mob of 10,000 in the capital city of Islamabad, 15,000 in Karachi and more in Lahore and Peshawar can do when it wants to burn down its own house in rage.
The Express Tribune reports on the September 21 protests across Pakistan over an anti-Islam film which descended into riots resulting in several deaths, scores wounded and loss of properties:
Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) [love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Day] was observed throughout Pakistan on Friday on the orders of the Government of Pakistan, condemning the anti-Islam film.
After Friday prayers, protests erupted in several cities across the country which soon turned violent. As the police remained unable to control the protesters, a loss to life and property was reported.
A total of 15 people were killed across the country and more than 200 were wounded during the protests. Cinemas, banks, vehicles and fuel stations were torched, while markets were also vandalised.
Two police officials were also killed during clashes in Karachi.
The central leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUI-F) Maulana Fazal Rehman commended the nation over successful protests across the country against the anti-Islam film.
People have died and it’s a success. I must confess that efforts to wrap my head around that one has so far been a failure.
An Express Tribune commenter snarkily writes:
“Somebody insulted me today. I am going to go home and burn it down. Now, someone will think twice about insulting me.”
Below is a video clip from GlobalPost’s Karachi-based journalist Mariya Karimjee with Breaking News Editor Hanna Ingber, giving her insights into how the Pakistani government and political parties have encouraged the anti-US protests. Read more: http://bit.ly/QrRNxS
The AP reports that the deadliest violence occurred in Karachi, where 12 people were killed and 82 wounded. Armed demonstrators among a crowd of 15,000 reportedly fired on police, and the mob apparently burned down two cinemas and a bank.
In Peshawar, three people were killed and 61 were wounded. Police fired on rioters who set fire to two movie theaters and the city’s chamber of commerce, as well as damaged shops and vehicles.
The report also says that police clashed with over 10,000 demonstrators in several neighborhoods, including in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad where the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions are located.
I have it in good authority that the members of the US Mission Pakistan including those in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar are all safe and accounted for.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon went on CBS News and told Pamela Falk that if the U.S. wants to stop the attacks against American embassies, to “just lay off our Prophet, just lay off our Prophet. Is that too much to ask?” Which makes perfect sense, of course, as the US Government can just send a mass email to all American citizens, including our own idiots to lay off, right? He works at the UN, in New York, and this shows real understanding of the United States. And if that is not enough, he adds:
“Is what happened in Pakistan a manifestation of the people of Pakistan? Yes. Of the government of Pakistan? No,” Haroon said. “If the government of Pakistan was acquiescent of what is happening in Pakistan [the violence], they wouldn’t be firing teargas and bullets at the protestors.”
Diiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg! And he totally missed his chance to explain to the American public that his country has a population of over 180 million people and that the mob protesters rounded up to say 30,000 only accounts for — wait for it —
Because that’s what any well-trained diplomat would have done. Instead, he lumps all Pakistanis, all 180 million of them with a rampaging mob, a deadly minority. I’m baffled by such diplomatic eloquence.