Indian Kashmir cleric warns Americans to leave

AFP , Friday 14 Sep 2012

The Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir urges all US citizens to 'immediately leave' the region following a controversial anti-Muslim film

Indian Kashmir's most senior Islamic cleric has told all US citizens to "immediately leave" the region because of the privately-produced anti-Islam film that surfaced in the United States.

"US citizens visiting Kashmir should leave immediately as the sentiments of the Muslims have been hurt by these pictures," the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Bashiruddin Ahmad said Thursday, the Press Trust of India reported.

"Everyone accepts the greatness of the Prophet and any attempt to malign his image will not be tolerated," the news agency quoted him as saying.

Hundreds of lawyers shouted anti-US slogans and went on strike on Friday in Srinagar, the main city of Indian Kashmir.

Zaffar Shah, former president of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association said, "about 700 of us are not working today in protest against this blasphemous film."

"We want to discourage people from making such movies, and we urge the US government to ban the film and prosecute the filmmaker under some law that prevents people from inciting others," he told AFP.

A small group of protesters gathered peacefully on Thursday in Srinagar to denounce the film, but police were on standby for the possibility of unrest after prayers on Friday.

Four people died in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday as violence once again flared outside US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa over the low-budget film.

The deaths followed the killing of a US diplomat and three colleagues in Syria Tuesday after a mob stormed the consulate in Benghazi.

India is home to a Muslim population estimated at about 150 million, according to census data.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is a picturesque Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan where a two-decade separatist war has raged on the Indian side.

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