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Umno and PAS to hold separate protests

 | September 20, 2012

However, the two Youth wings remain in solidarity in their protests against insults to Prophet Muhammad in the American film and cartoons in a French magazine.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Youth wings of Umno and PAS will hold separate protests tomorrow against the insulting portrayal of Prophet Muhammad, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said, despite recent talks that they would hold it together.

Umno Youth, along with 12 other NGOs and component parties MIC and MCA, will gather around Masjid Kampung Baru after Friday prayers, whereas PAS Youth will hold a simultaneous protest outside the US Embassy, Khairy said.

“[Pas Youth chief] Nasaruddin [Tantawi] and I originally intended to demonstrate together over this issue. I sent him a message, and they indicated they were open to the idea,” Khairy said at a press conference today.

“But after speaking to him last night, we were both concerned that in the heat of the protests, and with supporters of both parties present, the crowd may become unmanageable when they convene in front of the US Embassy.”

He said he feared that the original intent of the demonstration – which was to object against the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad in the American film “Innocence of Muslims” and in a French magazine – would be drowned out if anything untoward were to occur among the supporters.

Muslims the world over have protested against a 13-minute YouTube video connected to the film “The Innocence of Muslims”, which mocked Prophet Muhammad.

The video sparked the deaths of the US envoy to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi, while other foreign embassies were attacked in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Reuters reported.

Yesterday, French magazine Charlie Hebdo ridiculed the Prophet by portraying him naked in cartoons, despite warnings from the French government, and this has threatened to fuel further anger among the Muslim community.

“We want to ensure the demonstrations are peaceful, as we want to show to the West that we Muslims not only condemn the cartoon and the film, but also the violence that ensued,” said Khairy.

Non-Muslims invited

He pointed out that there was nothing wrong in demonstrating in a peaceful manner to “manifest [their] anger”, adding that even in the West, the public took to the streets to protest against any issue that they were concerned with.

“Why shouldn’t Muslims be allowed to protest as well? Our purpose for demonstrating is to condemn all efforts to insult Islam. There must be a limit to the freedom of speech, and that limit should be based on religious, racial and national sensitivities,” he said.

He said he expected some 5,000 demonstrators to turn up tomorrow, adding that non-Muslims were more than welcome to join the crowd.

“Even though this protest is mainly about supporting the Prophet, we invite non-Muslims as well because the protest is about respecting all religions,” said Khairy.

“We don’t accept efforts to insult any religion, as it will only provoke and incense the people. So we are happy to accept support from all sides.”

So far, non-governmental bodies such as Pekida, Perkasa, Gerakan Belia 4B, GPMS, Silat Pesaka, Gerakan, PPP, Malaysian Youth Council, Persatuan Silat Pesaka, Alumni Aspirasi and Rela have agreed to join Umno Youth’s protest, Khairy said, adding that he expected more to turn up tomorrow.

But he said that to prove that Muslims could protest in a variety of ways, Umno Youth would also be holding a more peaceful event next week to show their love towards the Prophet.

The event, called “Malam Mencintai Rasul” would involve poems and other forms of performances dedicated to the Prophet. It would be open to the public, and Khairy said he would personally invite PAS Youth to attend.


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