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"Love For The Prophet Day:" Pakistan Blocks Cellphones As Cinemas Torched

THE FRONTIER POST, DAWN (Pakistan), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), BBC NEWS (UK)

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ISLAMABAD - Pakistani authorities have cut mobile phone services in 15 cities to reduce security risks as more demonstrations are taking place today across the country against the infamous film "Innocence of Muslims" that mocks Islam's prophet, reports Dawn.

The government fears that militants could use their phones to detonate bombs or organize violent protests. At least two cinemas have already been targeted. 

The move came a day after the government declared this Friday a national holiday to renew a pledge of allegiance with Prophet Muhammad, said Al Jazeera.

Public transport, business houses, shopping plazas, educational institutions, banks, courts and other public and private offices remained closed across the country on Friday designated as the Yaum-i-Ishq-i-Rasool (‘Love for the Prophet’ day), said Dawn.

Angry demonstrators set fire to two cinemas in the northern city of Peshawar, reports the Frontier Post. One protester was wounded when a cinema guard opened fire as angry crowds armed with clubs and bamboo poles converged on the Firdaus picture house, smashing it up and setting furniture ablaze. Witnesses said a rampaging crowd also stormed the Shama cinema, smashing windows and setting it on fire.

Meanwhile,  authorities in Peshawar used shipping containers to block roads leading to the U.S. consulate, the offices of Western aid organizations and other sensitive buildings, the Frontier Post reported.

According to BBC News, the United States has paid $70,000 for adverts to be broadcast on Pakistani TV that show President Barack Obama condemning the film.

In the Pakistani capital, a driver for a Pakistani TV station was killed Thursday when police opened fire to disperse protesters.

The U.S. embassy was also targeted by protesters which total number reached around 5,000 with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of hardline Islamist groups, adds Al Jazeera.

Authorities have reported that at least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds towards the crowds. Since the beginning of the protests, at least 30 people were killed around the Muslim world.

Addressing a large gathering to mark the Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Friday that the Muslim world needed to work together with other countries to find a solution that ensures respect of the sentiments of people of all religions, reports Dawn.

He said in the recent past, there had been a number of incidents of blasphemy by those who wanted to create chaos in the world adding the making of the notorious film was not about freedom of expression, but was an expression of blatant hatred.

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