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Pakistanis condemn Rushdie honour
Hundreds demonstrate and parliament condemns Salman Rushdie's knighthood.
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2007 08:02 GMT
Salman Rushdie's knighthood has drawn
protest in Pakistan in recent days [EPA]
Thousands of Pakistanis have burned effigies of Queen Elizabeth and Salman Rushdie, with Shaukat Aziz, the prime minister, saying that Britain's decision to knight the author has defamed Muslims.
Demonstrators on Friday took to the streets in several cities amid growing anger at Britain's decision to honour the author of The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous.
Britain has defended the knighthood, stressing the importance of free speech and saying it was part of a trend of honouring Muslims in the British community.

Under watch

A crowd of about 300 people in the capital Islamabad, watched over by riot police carrying batons and shields, chanted "Our  struggle will continue until Salman Rushdie is killed!"

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Fazlur Rehman, a  pro-Taliban cleric and leader of the parliamentary opposition, told  the protesters: "Britain must withdraw the knighthood and hand Rushdie to  Pakistan to be punished under Islamic laws."

Later, Aziz lashed out at Britain in Pakistan's parliament.

"we condemn the decision to award a knighthood to Rushdie," he  told the national assembly, or lower house.

"It has hurt the feelings of Muslims. Muslims will never  tolerate derogatory remarks against the last Prophet Mohammed."

In Karachi more than 1,000 people chanting "Death to Rushdie,  Death to Britain" gathered outside the city's main conservative Binori mosque after Friday prayers.

Bombings justified

The protesters chanted that they backed comments made in  parliament on Monday by Ijaz-ul Haq, the religious affairs minister, that Rushdie's knighthood justified suicide bombings.

They also hit out at Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister, for  calling for Haq's resignation.

"Whosoever kills him will
be the hero
of Muslims"


Khwaja Saad Rafiq, opposition politician

In the central city of Multan there were several protests drawing more than 750 people. Members of the local paramedics association torched effigies of Rushdie and the Queen, a photographer said.

About 700 Muslim activists and members of cricketer-turned-politician  Imran Khan's party chanted "Curse Rushdie, Long Live Osama (Bin Laden)" in northwestern Peshawar.

Hundreds of protesters burned tyres, a Rushdie dummy and posters  from a local cinema in the eastern town of Gujrat. They also blocked  a main road for two hours.

Several hundred protesters also gathered in the eastern city of  Lahore and in Quetta, a southwestern city near the Afghan border.

Medal returned

Arbab Ghulam Rahim, chief minister of Sindh province, said he was returning a medal given to his grandfather by Britain's King George VI in 1937 and a title awarded to his uncle by the British in 1945.

"I will now return these as no Muslim can accept any title from the Queen after she honoured Salman Rushdie," he said.

In Iran, a prominent cleric said that the fatwa issued by the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini in 1989 calling for Rushdie's death was "still alive".

"In the Islamic Iran that revolutionary fatwa of Imam [Khomeini] is still alive and cannot be changed," Ahmad Khatami said in comments during Friday prayers that were broadcast on state radio.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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