An Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist was shot and seriously wounded in Pakistan on Friday as clashes broke out during protests over the publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Photographer Asif Hassan was hit by gunfire during a protest outside the French consulate in Karachi staged by hardline Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing, after Charlie Hebdo featured the cartoon on the cover of its first issue since last week's terrorist attack on its offices.
Around 350 demonstrators had been attempting to march on the consulate and threw stones and fired weapons when police blocked their way, official Abdul Khaliq Sheikh told AFP. Hassan was apparently caught in the crossfire.
Security forces reportedly shot in the air and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowds, but did not use live fire on the protesters, Sheikh told Reuters.
Hassan was hit in the back by a bullet that struck his lung and exited through his chest, but is now stable after receiving surgery, according to his doctors. "He is out of immediate danger and he has spoken to his colleagues," Doctor Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman for Karachi's Jinnah Hospital where Hassan was treated, told AFP. Local English-language daily Dawn said three other people had also been admitted to hospital for exposure to tear gas, and another journalist injured.
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo's central Paris headquarters last week and murdered 12 people, they said to avenge the publication's regular depictions and lampooning of Muhammed, something many Muslims regard as blasphemous.
In a gesture of defiance, the cover of the first issue since the massacre is a cartoon of the Prophet shedding a tear while holding a sign that says "Je suis Charlie" — the slogan which has become popular around the world as a declaration of solidarity with the victims of the attack — under a headline that reads "All is forgiven."
It has caused mass controversy in the Middle East and elsewhere and the issue has been banned in a number of Muslim countries. Jamaat-e-Islami called for nationwide protests against the magazine.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, but on Thursday joined those condemning the latest issue.
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