(AsiaNews) - "Stupid violence", "we are only hurting ourselves,"
"destroying our property to criticize a movie made in the USA",
"Shame on Pakistan: burning, looting, killing our people in ... name
of Allah! ": these are some of the comments in the " The Dawn" the
morning after a day of violence and death in the capital and other cities in
Pakistan, which have killed 23 people and wounded more than 200.
Yesterday, the Pakistani Government had launched a "day in the love of the prophet," to criticize the anti-Islam film made in the U.S., considered blasphemous towards Muhammad. But various extremist groups of tens of thousands hijacked the event to violently commit, murder, arson and theft in Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and other cities. The previous day, prominent government and religious leaders urged people to protest against the anti-Islam film in a peaceful manner. The shock wave of violence began shortly after Friday prayers. The demonstrations were led by various religious groups like the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Jamaat-i-Islami, Sunni Tehrik and the Majlis-i-Muslimeen Wahdatul. They had promised to maintain peaceful demonstrations. But later militants and activists arrived, to incite the crowds.
In the capital, the rampaging mob burned four cinemas, six banks, four police cars, two restaurants, a lot of cars. For hours they continued to loot banks and other buildings along the route of the parade.
The police had set up blocks and checkpoints to protect the U.S. embassy, but soon groups of militants, armed with sticks and stones, began to attack the police cordons. The police first fired tear gas, then fired into the air, finally they fired live ammunition into the crowd. Tree policemen were among those killed.
In other cities like Lahore and Karachi, the protesters tried to get close to the U.S. consulate, but were pushed back by the police.
According to several analysts, the protests sparked by the anti-Islam film has become an opportunity exploited by religious groups to increase their influence and power in the elections. Along with these, there are also bands only interested in destabilizing the government and marginalizing rival groups.
In other cities such as Cairo and Kuala Lumpur, demonstrations were held in entirely peaceful manner.