Charlie Hedbo protests draws thousands in Pakistan

Supporters of Jamaat ahle Hadees burn the French flag in a protest against Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad as a cover, in Quetta

(AFP) – Thousands of people marched through Pakistan’s southern megacity today in the largest protest yet against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The march through the streets of Karachi is the biggest in a series of demonstrations against the magazine, whose Paris offices were attacked on January 7 by Islamist gunmen, killing 12 people.

An intelligence official overseeing the rally told AFP that the protesters numbered in the “thousands”, still a relatively small turnout in a city of 18 million people.

Protesters carried green flags printed with the prophet’s mausoleum and chanted anti-Charlie Hebdo slogans as they marched.

“Down with Charlie Hebdo, down with the blasphemers,” they shouted.

Many carried placards demanding blasphemers be killed.

Across the border in Afghanistan, around 50 people gathered outside the French Embassy in Kabul to protest against the magazine, chanting “France you are the devil”.

Charlie Hebdo last week published a “survivors” issue with an image of the Prophet Mohammed weeping on the cover. The issue quickly sold out before more copies of an eventual print run of five million hit newsstands.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, insulting the prophet can carry the death penalty, and the country’s prime minister and parliament last week strongly condemned the publication of the cartoons.

At least three people were injured on Friday when protesters and police clashed at an anti-Charlie Hebdo demonstration outside the French consulate in Karachi.

They included AFP photographer Asif Hassan, who was shot in the back and is now recovering in hospital.