Pak to observe September 21 as ‘Love the Prophet Day’

Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistan government on Thursday decided to observe the coming Friday as ‘Love the Prophet Day’ and declared it a national holiday, condemning an anti-Islam film that has led to protests across the world and here too.

The federal cabinet set aside its agenda during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to condemn the film that has triggered protests across the Muslim world.

The cabinet decided to observe September 21 as “Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool” (Love the Prophet Day) to convey the government’s protest. The day was also declared a national holiday.

“I intend that a message should go to the world that the federal cabinet of Pakistan strongly condemns this sacrilegious film which has created unrest amongst Muslims.

“At this moment, I call upon the people of Pakistan to register their protest peacefully but to observe restraint and not to damage their own property,” Ashraf said while addressing the cabinet.

Ashraf said he had already directed the Information Technology Ministry to block YouTube “to register our protest at the availability of this sacrilegious film on the website” and to demand its immediate removal.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters that the government intended to join protests being organised on Friday after the weekly prayers as no one could tolerate the contents of the anti-Islam film.

The government will organise an ‘Ishq-e-Rasool’ (Love the Prophet) conference in Islamabad on Friday, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told a news conference.

Envoys of Muslim nations, federal ministers and political leaders are expected to participate in it.

“We respect the freedom of speech and expression but we cannot allow anyone or any organisation to issue hate material which is painful or defamatory to other religions,” Kaira said.

A film that insults the Prophet cannot be part of freedom of expression, he said.