Protests and violence have erupted across the Muslim world following the release on YouTube of “Innocence of Muslims,” a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Nowhere has the violence been as intense as in Pakistan, where demonstrations and riots have claimed over 20 lives since street agitation first began on Friday, September 14.
The demonstrations have been far from spontaneous expressions of anger in the wake of publicity surrounding the film; they appear, rather, to have been sparked initially by Islamist political parties and groups with ties to militant Islamist groups. Protests first broke out on Tuesday, September 11 in Egypt and Libya, but the first public protests in Pakistan were not seen until three days later, and even then they were fairly small-scale and peaceful. Fridays are usually days when protests are expected to be their largest, due to congregations across the country meeting for Friday afternoon prayers. Protests did not start in earnest in Pakistan until Sunday, September 16 when large demonstrations, including those organized by religious parties and Islamist groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Jamaat-e-Islami, marched on U.S. diplomatic missions in Pakistan’s main cities.
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