Shopkeepers strike in Pakistan in protest over cartoons

Shopkeepers shut their doors Tuesday in a bustling city near Pakistan's capital to protest the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that have sparked a string of violent demonstrations across the country in the past week.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 people chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Denmark" as they rallied in the small town of Barwand in the South Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border.

The protesters also burned flags of Denmark, where the caricatures were first printed, and torched effigies of the Danish prime minister and the U.S. president.

Violent protests have killed at least five people in the past week. Recently, the government has started arresting hard-line Islamic leaders, accused of whipping up crowds, and deploying troops to prevent more rioting.

Just outside the capital in Rawalpindi, about five major markets were closed Tuesday as shopkeepers protested the cartoons.

"The strike by traders and industry is very successful. One-hundred percent of the shops are closed," said Mushtaq Ali Shah, senior vice president of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which helped organize the strike.

"No person can accept insults to their religious leaders. We are ready to render any type of sacrifice to protect their dignity," Shah said.

Shah said a rally wasn't being held because the businesses didn't want the protest to turn into a riot that might damage property. One week ago, a similar event in the eastern city of Lahore triggered a rampage that led to several shops being burned, reports the AP.


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