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PAKISTAN: Journalists, lawyers protest publication of cartoons

Journalists, lawyers urge government to recall ambassadors from all countries in which cartoons have been published

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Rawalpindi --- Lawyers and journalists on Tuesday protested against the publication of sacrilegious cartoons in some European newspapers and asked the government to immediately call back its ambassadors from these countries.

The lawyers boycotted the proceedings of the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench, district courts and special courts after 11 a.m. and wore black bands onto their shoulders as a mark of protest.

They demanded that the governments of these countries should take a strict action against the publishers of the newspapers, which had published the cartoons. The district bar association also unanimously passed a resolution condemning the publication of sacrilegious material.

The lawyers urged the government to call back its ambassadors from these countries and pressure their governments to apologise to the Muslim Ummah for hurting their religious sentiments.

Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on Tuesday held a protest rally against the publication of sacrilegious cartoons in some European newspapers.

The rally was headed by the RIUJ president, Kamal Azfar, General Secretary Tariq Usmani and President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) C R Shamsi. A large number of twin cities journalists participated in the protest. The rally was taken out from the RIUJ camp office at Melody Chowk and culminated in front of the Danish embassy.

The participants of the rally were holding banners and placards, inscribed with slogans condemning the publication of cartoons.

Speaking to the participants of the rally, Kamal Azfar said that the people of Pakistan should not rest unless the Government of Pakistan took a serious notice of the incident.

He said a grand march would be held on February 14 from Parliament House to the Foreign Office if President Musharraf did not seek an apology from the ambassadors of these countries.

He also urged the government to call back all its ambassadors from the European and Scandinavian countries. "The journalists will boycott the coverage of political and foreign affairs if the government does not take action in this regard," he warned.

Later the RIUJ office-bearers presented a memorandum to the Danish embassy officials.