Pakistan: protesters end anti-France sit-in

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Thousands of protesters led by a religious party in the Pakistani capital called off their anti-France sit-in after successful negotiations with the government, a spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

“We came to an agreement with the government and ended our protest,” Anadolu Raja Danish Bakhtiar, a spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, told the news agency.

Party supporters, gathered in Islamabad on Sunday, demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador and the boycott of French products following the publication of blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in France.

While there has been no official confirmation of the terms of the deal, a handwritten agreement is making the rounds on social media.

The note bearing the signatures of Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Qadri and Minister of Interior Ijaz Shah indicates that the government will take a decision regarding the expulsion of the French Ambassador within three months and will not appoint his Ambassador to France .

The government also assured to officially boycott French products and release all demonstrators, according to the alleged agreement.

Authorities had sealed off the capital’s red zone and physical clashes between protesters and security officials also took place.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron accused French Muslims of “separatism” and called Islam a “religion in crisis”.

Tensions escalated further with the October 16 murder of a French teacher who was showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students. Macron paid tribute to him and declared that France “will not give up our cartoons”.

Insulting cartoons from Charlie Hebdo, a French weekly, have also been projected on buildings in a few cities.

Many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, have condemned Macron’s publication and subsequent response.
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