Anti-Islam film: 2 dead in Pak protests, PM orders blocking of video
Islamabad: Two persons died in violent protests against an anti-Islam film in Pakistan even as Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Monday directed authorities to block YouTube for hosting "blasphemous material", including clips from the movie.
A man was killed and two more were injured in a reported exchange of fire with police during a protest in Upper Dir district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest.
A mob of nearly 1,000 people also set on fire a press club and a police station during the protest.
Another man who was seriously injured in a protest outside the US Consulate in Karachi died Monday in hospital, officials said.
Protesters attempted to march towards the consulate again today during a demonstration organised by the Jamaat-e- Islami's students' wing but were pushed back by riot police.
All rounds around the consulate were blocked with empty containers and police and paramilitary personnel used batons and teargas to disperse the protesters.
The security forces also fired in the air and arrested some 30 protesters.
Late in the evening, Prime Minister Ashraf directed the Information Technology Ministry to "block the services of YouTube with immediate effect".
A statement issued by the premier's office said the order was given after YouTube refused to heed Pakistan government's "advice" to remove the blasphemous film from its website.
"The Prime Minister said that blasphemous material would not be tolerated and the services of YouTube would remain suspended till the removal of blasphemous material," the statement said.
Earlier in the day, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to "immediately block" clips from the film on YouTube and other websites.
The apex court issued the order while hearing a constitutional petition that had asked it to block obscene and objectionable material in the media.
Noting that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had not laid down standards for programming, the bench directed the body to frame a "commonly accepted standard of decency" and take measures to control obscenity and indecency within two weeks.
Despite the steps taken by the government, hardline religious groups continued with their protests across Pakistan.
The protests, which began on Friday, spread to northwest Pakistan today.
In Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, thousands of students and teachers joined several protests against the anti-Islam film.
They shouted slogans against the US, burnt American flags and blocked roads by setting tyres on fire.
Members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the students' wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, were among those who joined the protests.
In Lahore and Peshawar, protesters attempted to march towards the US Consulates but were blocked by security forces.
Members of the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, a Shia group, clambered atop the walls of the consulate in Lahore before they were pulled down by policemen.
Police used batons and teargas to drive back the protesters.
Protests were also organised in Chaman and Quetta of Balochistan province, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur in Sindh province, Kohat and Chitral in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Kotli in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The film, believed to have been made by a group of Christian extremists in the US, has triggered violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world.
A total of 17 people have died in violence linked to the film, including the US Ambassador to Libya.