Pakistan police use tear gas on anti-France protesters

Lahore: Pakistan police used tear gas and water cannon on thousands of supporters of an Islamist anti-blasphemy party after the arrest of their leader, who has called for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed — deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

Saad Rizvi, leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was detained in Lahore, party officials said.

His arrest was confirmed by police, but they did not say on what charges.

He had been trying to organize a march on the capital on April 20 to demand the expulsion of the French ambassador.

AFP staff saw police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters who blocked streets and intersections in Lahore, the country’s second biggest city.

Last year, TLP supporters brought the capital to a standstill for three days with a series of anti-France rallies.

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