Police break up protest outside London’s French embassy as Muslims demonstrate against ‘disrespect of Muhammad'

April Roach
·3-min read
Demonstrators outside the French Embassy in London (PA)
Demonstrators outside the French Embassy in London (PA)

Police broke up an “unlawful” protest outside the French embassy in London as thousands of Muslims demonstrated around the world following the French president’s promise to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad.

<p>Demonstrators pour perfume onto the street outside the French Embassy in London</p>PA

Demonstrators pour perfume onto the street outside the French Embassy in London

PA

Muslims from Pakistan to Lebanon to the Paestinian territories poured out of Friday prayer services to join anti-France protests.

It comes after a knife-wielding Tunisian man carrying a copy of the Koran killed three people at a church in Nice.

Protesters gathered outside the French embassy in London carrying signs that read “Emmanuel Macron do not divide humanity” and “Islam is a religion of peace and love”.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the protesters failed to provide a sufficient risk assessment to the local authority and their protest was determined “unlawful”.

“Those participating in the protest are currently being advised to disperse. Officers will be engaging with crowds and informing them of this development,” said the spokesman.

"Where necessary, enforcement action will be considered and taken."

<p>Protesters carried signs of French president Emmanuel Macron</p>PA

Protesters carried signs of French president Emmanuel Macron

PA

Demonstrations in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad turned violent as 2,000 people who tried to march towards the French embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons.

Crowds of Islamist activists hanged an effigy of Mr Macron from a highway overpass after pounding it furiously with their shoes. Several demonstrators were wounded in clashes with police and authorities deployed more security forces to protect the embassy.

In the eastern city of Lahore, thousands of worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, took to the streets chanting anti-France slogans, raising banners and clogging major roads en route to a Sufi shrine.

In Multan, a city in Punjab province, thousands more torched an effigy of Mr Macron and called on Pakistan to sever ties with France and boycott French goods.

Tensions have risen between France and Muslim-majority nations after a young Muslim beheaded a French teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Those images, republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial for the deadly 2015 attack against the publication, have stirred the anger of Muslims across the world who consider depictions of the prophet blasphemous.

A few hundred demonstrators in Lebanon’s capital Beirut flocked toward the Palais des Pins, the official residence of the French ambassador to Lebanon, but found their way blocked by lines of police in riot gear.

Waving black and white flags with Islamist insignia, the Sunni Islamist activists cried: “At your service, oh prophet of God.” Some threw stones at police who responded with smoke and tear gas.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians protested against Mr Macron outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, chanting: “With our souls and with our blood we sacrifice for our prophet, Muhammad.”

Some youths scuffled with Israeli police as they exited the esplanade into the Old City. Israeli police said they dispersed the gathering and detained three people.

Scores more turned out in the Gaza Strip, where the militant Hamas group organised anti-France rallies at mosques across the territory that it controls.

One protester, who identified himself as Abu Huzayfa, equivocated when asked about recent attacks in France in retribution for the cartoons.

“We don’t target innocents,” he said. “But those who directly insult our prophet will shoulder the responsibility.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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