According to eyewitnesses, around 10,000 supporters of a religious group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), held a sit-in outside the capital on Monday, demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan.
Using barbed wire and containers, security forces blocked all major arteries leading to the capital as protesters planned to march towards the French embassy.
Clashes were reported between protesters and security forces, although local media covered the event.
Videos circulating on social media showed protesters throwing stones at police, who in turn fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse them.
The TLP, led by a cleric hitman Allama Khadim Rizvi, rose to prominence in 2017 when its supporters staged a long march on the capital against legislation supposedly changing the status of the Ahmediya sect, which was declared non-Muslim in the country. Constitution.
The Pakistani military’s media branch issued a traffic advisory for people to take alternative routes, as the road closures caused difficulties for commuters.
Authorities on Sunday turned off mobile phone services in and around the capital, which was partially restored on Monday.
“The situation has become violent here,” Ijaz Ahmed, a journalist based in Islamabad, told Anadolu news agency by telephone.
“Intermittent clashes still continue as security forces attempt to detain indicted protesters using tear gas and water cannons,” he added.
Last month, French President Macron attacked Islam and the Muslim community, accusing Muslims of “separatism.” He described Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world”.
It coincided with a provocative move by Charlie Hebdo, a French left-wing satirical magazine infamous for publishing anti-Islamic cartoons that sparked widespread anger in the Muslim world.
Earlier this year, he reposted blasphemous cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
The cartoons were first published in 2006 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, sparking a wave of protests.
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