Nigerians in massive protests over anti-Islam movie


Tens of thousands of Nigerians on Saturday protested on the streets of Nigeria’s city of Kano against an anti-Islam film made in the US that has stirred outrage across the Muslim world.

The crowd of demonstrators stretched several kilometres through the city, the largest in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, with protesters shouting “death to America, death to Israel and death to the enemies of Islam”.

There had been protests in Zaria, in Kaduna state and an attempt to stage one in the volatile city of Jos was broken with the security agencies firing guns into the air to dismiss the demonstrators.

The rally was being organised by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a pro-Iranian group that adheres to the Shiite branch of Islam, which has operated in Africa’s most populous country since the late 1970s.

“We are out today to express our rage and disapproval over this blasphemous film,” said Muhammed Turi, a member of the Islamic Movement and one of the protest leaders.

“This protest is also aimed at calling on the US government to put a halt to further blasphemy against Islam,” he added.

Demonstrators carried pictures of US President Barack Obama, as well as American and Israeli flags as they marched towards a palace owned the Emir of Kano, the top religious figure in the city of roughly 4.5 million people.

Others were waving Iranian flags.

The low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims,” has incited a wave of bloody anti-American violence in cities across the Muslim world, with protests occurring in more than 20 countries.

In Pakistan yesterday, 21 people reportedly died in protests in Karachi.

The protests continued today in the capital of Islamabad.

More than 5,000 protesters marched towards the parliament in Islamabad, including hundreds of women, chanting “We love our Holy Prophet” and “Punishment for those who humiliated our Prophet”.

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Some 500 people from the hardline Islamist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa staged a protest in front of the US consulate in the eastern city of Lahore, chanting “The US deserves only one remedy — jihad, jihad”.

The protests were peaceful, in contrast to the previous day’s demonstrations.

Religious groups said they were also planning demonstrations in Karachi, the scene of the worst violence on Friday, after the funerals of some of those killed during the protests.

Protests against the film “Innocence of Muslims”, which mocks Islam, have erupted across the Muslim world and tens of thousands took to the streets across Asia and the Middle East Friday as Western missions closed amid fears of violence.

Anger has also been stoked by the publication in a French magazine of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

On Friday the violence was worst in Pakistan with witnesses estimating that nationwide rallies mobilised more than 45,000, mainly members of right-wing religious parties and supporters of banned terror groups, although the numbers were still small in a country of 180 million.

Four more people died overnight from wounds they received during the protests, taking the number killed across Pakistan in the day of demonstrations to 21.

Fifteen people were killed in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and six in the northwestern city of Peshawar, health department officials said.

The combined total of wounded in Karachi, Peshawar and in the capital Islamabad was 229.

“The total death toll from the anti-Islam film protests reached 15 in Karachi as three more succumbed to their injuries overnight,” Sagheer Ahmed, provincial health minister in southern Sindh province, told AFP.

Mukhtiar Khan, a senior doctor at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said that one more person died from his wounds in hospital, taking the total killed in the city to six.

Overall, 23 people have been killed in Pakistan during protests over the past week.

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