ISLAMABAD — Thousands of angry activists staged new demonstrations in the Muslim World Saturday against a US-made anti-Islam film, as the death toll from Friday’s violent protests in Pakistan rose to 21.
In Dhaka, authorities fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations against the film and hurled stones at police.
The clash erupted after the protesters from an alliance of 12 Islamist parties tried to hold a rally in central Dhaka despite a 24-hour ban on gatherings in the area, police said.
Hundreds of protesters attacked policemen, torched a motorbike and damaged a police van, forcing police “to fire tear gas shells to disperse them”, Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said.
“They defied our ban and tried to stage a protest against the anti-Islam film. At one stage, they started pelting stones at policemen,” he said, adding that police arrested several people including some leaders of the group.
In the Nigerian city of Kano, tens of thousands of people protested against the film that has stirred outrage across the Muslim world.
The crowd of demonstrators stretched several kilometers through the city, the largest in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, with protesters shouting “death to America, death to Israel and death to the enemies of Islam”.
The rally was being organized by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a pro-Iranian group, which has operated in Africa’s most populous country since the late 1970s.
“We are out today to express our rage and disapproval over this blasphemous film,” said Muhammed Turi, a member of the Islamic Movement and one of the protest leaders.
“This protest is also aimed at calling on the US government to put a halt to further blasphemy against Islam,” he added.
In the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, more than 5,000 protesters, including hundreds of women, marched toward parliament building chanting “We love our Holy Prophet” and “Punishment for those who humiliated our Prophet”.
Some 500 people from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa staged a protest in front of the US consulate in the eastern city of Lahore, chanting “The US deserves only one remedy — jihad, jihad”.
The protests were peaceful, in contrast to Friday’s demonstrations.
Religious groups said they were also planning demonstrations in Karachi, the scene of the worst violence on Friday, after the funerals of some of those killed during the protests.
On Friday the violence was worst in Pakistan with witnesses estimating that nationwide rallies mobilized more than 45,000, mainly members of right-wing religious parties and supporters of banned terror groups, although the numbers were still small in a country of 180 million.
Four more people died overnight from wounds they received during the protests, taking the number killed across Pakistan in the day of demonstrations to 21.
Fifteen people were killed in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and six in the northwestern city of Peshawar, health department officials said.
The combined total of wounded in Karachi, Peshawar and in the capital Islamabad was 229. — Agencies