France urges citizens to leave Pakistan amid anti-French protests

France urges citizens to leave Pakistan amid anti-French protests
TLP supporters throw rocks and bricks at police in Islamabad on Tuesday after the party's leader was detained. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: France has urged all its citizens in Pakistan to leave the country temporarily. The French embassy in Pakistan urged it in a time amid violent anti-French protests across the country.

In an email obtained by French news agency AFP, France’s embassy in Pakistan warned of “serious threats to French interests in Pakistan”.

Two police officers died this week in Pakistan in renewed clashes with protesters. France urged its citizens to leave the country in a situation like this.

Protests were sparked in Pakistan months ago after a French magazine republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

French President Emmanuel Macron has defended the magazine’s right to publish, angering hardliners in Pakistan.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam across the world, and are considered highly offensive by many Muslims.

This week, the protests escalated after the Pakistani government arrested a leader of the hardline political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) named Khadim Hussain Rizvi. TLP has called for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Mr Rizvi’s arrest, and a move by the Pakistani authorities to ban the TLP, brought thousands of supporters if of the party into the streets in Pakistan to protest.

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon at the crowds.

The TLP has previously gathered huge crowds to protest over blasphemy issues in Pakistan. According to Pakistani law those found guilty of insulting the Prophet Muhammad can face the death penalty.

Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said at a news conference on Wednesday that the nation was “in favour of protecting the Prophet’s honour” but that the TLP’s demands “could have portrayed Pakistan as a radical nation worldwide”.

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