Pakistan Islamists call off protests, claim government to boycott France

Islamabad, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Islamist protesters on Tuesday called off demonstrations on a highway to Islamabad over caricatures of Prophet Mohammad, claiming that the government agreed to their demands for severing diplomatic ties with France and boycotting French products.

“The government will bring in some legislation in 2-3 months and the French ambassador will be sent back. The government will announce boycott of French products,” Zubair Ahmed, spokesperson of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party, told EFE.

He said the authorities would also release members of the TLP who were arrested by police over the last few days during the protests.

The government has been tight-lipped over the purported agreement with the Islamist group, but a notification by the interior ministry ordered the release of the arrested protesters.

Islamabad police confirmed that all the major roads in the city were now open after two days of a blockade.

The TLP began its protest against France on Sunday, triggering clashes with the police as the participants tried to head towards the French embassy in Islamabad.

The protesters occupied the Faizabad intersection, which connects Islamabad with the city of Rawalpindi, throwing the capital’s traffic into disarray.

Over the past few weeks, Pakistan has witnessed a series of protests against France and its president, Emmanuel Macron, for his comments about Islam and his refusal to ban the cartoons allegedly mocking the Prophet.

In October, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused Macron of attacking and ridiculing Islam and hurting the sentiments of millions of Muslims across the world.

Macron made some comments in the wake of the beheading of a French schoolteacher by a Chechen student on Oct. 16.

Khan has also repeatedly accused Europe of stoking Islamophobia.

Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old secondary school history and geography teacher, was killed by the knife-wielding Islamist attacker because he had shown the cartoons to students during a class on freedom of expression.

Images of the Prophet are considered deeply offensive by many Muslims. EFE-EPA


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