Pakistani Islamist group calls off protests over Mohammad's cartoons

An Islamist group on Tuesday called off violent protests over cartoons of Prophet Mohammad saying the Pakistani government has endorsed boycotting French products, a spokesman for the group said.

Thousands of Islamists clashed with police on the main road into Pakistan`s capital Islamabad on Monday following protests over the recent use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in France.

"We are calling off our protests after government signed an agreement that it will officially endorse boycotting the French products," Ejaz Ashrafi, a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Labaik party, told Reuters by phone.

The government has not yet commented on the agreement, that according to a copy seen by Reuters has been signed by two ministers, a top official and the group`s leaders.

Ashrafi said other conditions included the government working to expel the French envoy through parliament in two to three month time and Pakistan not sending its ambassador to Paris.

All protesters and their leaders arrested would be set free immediately, the spokesman said, shortly after he was released.

The Islamist group that has made blasphemy its rallying cry had sealed one of the main entrances to the capital, demanding the government sever diplomatic ties with France and expel its ambassador.

Protests broke out in several Muslim countries over France`s response to a deadly attack last month on a teacher who showed cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad to pupils during a civics lesson.

For Muslims, depictions of the Prophet are blasphemous.

There is a history of violent reaction to alleged incidents of blasphemy in Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty.



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