According to a report by Roland Jacquard, Chairman of Roland Jacquard Global Security Consulting (RJGSC), published in Global Watch Analysis, the Charlie Hebdo magazine had re-published the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad on September 2, which was the trial date of the January 2015 terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo office and the Hyper Cacher of Porte de Bagnolet in Paris.
Jacquard said that the strongest and most virulent backlash against France was witnessed in Pakistan, where radical Islamist groups took to the streets to protest, calling for the expulsion of the French Ambassador Marc Barety and suspension of diplomatic ties with France.
The protests organised by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a radical political party established in 2015, were held in Islamabad, Multan and Karachi, with the French flag being burnt across the country. Along with this, the party also ran a hateful social media campaign “calling for jihad against those committing blasphemy”.
Besides, Maulana Abdul Waseh, head of the Islamist group Jamaat Ulema e Islami Baluchistan, had called the publication of cartoons a blatant act of terrorism. Tahafuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference called the makers of the ‘blasphemous caricatures’ as the biggest terrorists.
Jacquard said, “Most worrying is that these protests are a re-iteration of the fact that terror/Islamic radical groups in Pakistan can carry out their activities without any restraint and often with the support of the State authorities. Another issue that should concern the democratic and secular world is the country’s blasphemy laws, under which members of the minority religious groups, mainly Christians and Hindus, are often sentenced to death by Pakistan’s courts on frivolous charges of blasphemy.”
He further said that the recent anti-France protests in Pakistan are a warning signal that the country might soon “emerge as the largest breeding ground of potential terror recruits”.
Asking countries to join hands against Pakistan, he said, “As more and more countries face the challenges of Islamic radicalisation, it is important that a combined approach be developed by countries sharing democratic ideals, in the West and even within the Islamic world, to face up to nations like Pakistan which pose a serious threat to world peace and security. And the first step towards this combined approach would be to stop seeing these countries as normal partners in bilateral and multinational engagement and trade.”
This comes close on the heels of a rally in Karachi where thousands participated in a massive anti-Shia demonstration, sparking fears that it could lead to a fresh round of sectarian violence in Pakistan.
Protestors chanted “Shias are Kaffir” (disbelievers) and holding banners of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, an anti-Shia terror organisation, linked to the killing of Shias over the years. The hashtag #ShiaGenocide soon began trending on Pakistani social media.