125 Prophet cartoons protesters arrested in Pakistan

Police arrested 125 prophet cartoon protesters for violating a ban on rallies in eastern Pakistan, amid expectations of more demonstrations Friday around the country in the wake of riots that have killed five people this week.

About 300 police swooped down on the protesters, who gathered Friday morning at a traffic circle in Multan city, chanting, "We are slaves of the prophet," and trampling on a Danish flag, said Sharif Zafar, a police official in Multan.

Protesters shouted "Death to Musharraf" as they were bundled into two police buses.

Zafar said they were being taken to a police station because they were violating a ban on rallies in the Punjab province, declared after deadly riots in the provincial capital Lahore on Tuesday.

In Karachi, a youth group called Pasban called a strike in the teeming port city on Friday, where about 40,000 people joined a peaceful protest on Thursday.

"We expect that people of all sects and walks of life will keep their businesses shut to convey a message to the Western world," said Altaf Shakoor, Pasban's chief.

Supporters of the radical Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest Islamic group, also planned to hold rallies in Karachi after midday prayers Friday, said Sarfaraz Ahmed, a spokesman for the anti-U.S. group, reports the AP.

I.L.

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