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French Embassy asks its citizens, companies to leave Pakistan following violent anti-France protests over Prophet cartoons

"Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country," the embassy wrote in an email to French citizens.

Today, the French embassy in Pakistan advised all French citizens and companies in the country to temporarily leave Pakistan which is staring at a violent civil war. This move comes in the wake of violent anti-France Islamist protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) affecting several parts of the country.

“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy wrote in an email to French citizens.

“The departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines,” the embassy added.

In a statement to the Pakistani publication Dawn, the French embassy’s press attaché Veronique Wagner said, “we can confirm that we have sent a precautionary note to all our citizens in Pakistan advising them to temporarily leave the country if possible due to the recent protests that have caused graver security threats and put its citizens at risk.”

Anti-French sentiment has been on the rise in Pakistan ever since French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of Free Speech and Expression after 45-year old Samuel Paty’s barbaric Islamist beheading in October last year. President Macron had defended the right of magazines to publish caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, a move which earned him the ire of Muslims around the world, especially in Pakistan.

Just yesterday, the Pakistani Government made the decision to ban TLP, the belligerent Islamist group which is behind the violent protests in Pakistan, and has demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador in Pakistan.

On Monday, the leader of TLP, Saad Rizvi was detained, seemingly ahead of his April 20th deadline for the Pakistan government to meet the demands put forth by TLP. This detention was the catalyst behind the three days of violent protests in Pakistan which have left two policemen dead, with over 370 injured.

The TLP has a notorious history of unleashing Islamist violence and holding days-long zealous Islamist protests in defense of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, which has in fact led to the persecution of minorities in Pakistan.

However, successive governments in Pakistan have largely ignored this looming specter of extremist Islamist violence, fearing that any major confrontation with these hardline Islamist groups will trigger a reprisal all across Pakistan in the form of thousands of Islamists coming out into in the streets, potentially leading to more violence.

“We are in favour of protecting the Prophet’s honour, but the demand which they are seeking could have portrayed Pakistan as a radical nation worldwide,” said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in a news conference yesterday.

On Twitter, the hashtag #FrenchLeavePakistan was trended on Thursday, amassing over 42,000 tweets at the time of publication.

In September 2020, weeks after Charlie Hebdo re-published its Prophet Muhammad caricatures, its former offices in Paris were attacked by a Pakistani man who stabbed two people.

On verge of a major civil conflict?

Over the past three days, at least half a dozen people including police officials have been killed and scores of people injured after violent Islamist protests broke out in different parts of Pakistan against the detention of TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

As per reports, the arrest of Saad Hussain Rizvi came in the backdrop of TLP’s ultimatum to the Imran Khan government to fulfill its four demands before the deadline of April 20. The demands were originally made in November last year, following the beheading of 46-year-old Samuel Paty by a teenage Jihadi terrorist in France and the subsequent criticism of Islamists by French President Emmanuel Macron. TLP also took offense to the display of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in public in one city in France.

Several videos depicting violent barbarism have emerged from Pakistan over the past three days, offering the world an insight into the brutality of the TLP Islamists.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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