Islamabad police fire tear gas as protesters breach blockades outside Red Zone
ISLAMABAD: Police on Friday briefly fired tear gas at protesters who broke through security blockades in Islamabad in a failed attempt to demonstrate at the French Embassy against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.
No one was injured and protesters later moved back towards a gathering spot originally agreed with the authorities, police said.
Muslims around the world have protested against France and President Emmanuel Macron over his controversial remarks against Islam.
Around 3,000 protesters gathered in Islamabad, about half a kilometre from the fortified diplomatic enclave where the French Embassy is, according to a Reuters witness.
Roads leading to the enclave were blocked using shipping containers and barbed wire and were guarded by riot police, but protesters managed to climb over the blockades - prompting police to fire tear gas.
“We needed to fire tear gas shells when the protesters tried to violate their agreement,” police official Amanullah Niazi said, referring to an agreement with protest leaders that they would not progress beyond a certain point.
The protest was organised by a traders’ association, which has already announced that it would take French products off shelves across the country.
Protests and gatherings marking the occasion were also held in the cities of Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.