An Islamist party in Pakistan has called off its violent protests against Emmanuel Macron, claiming the government has committed to boycott French goods.
Weeks of angry demonstrations followed the French president’s resolute defense of freedom of expression since a school teacher was beheaded by a jihadist for showing his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Pakistan is one of a number of Muslim countries where thousands of images of Macron and his tricolor flag are burned – a historical symbol of the opposition to clericalism.
The Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which led thousands of demonstrators to Islamabad on Sunday, said they had recalled their people after ministers promised a boycott.
People burn an image of French President Macron during a protest against his comments on caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Friday in Karachi, Pakistan
The boycott sign covers a shop window displaying French beauty products in protest in Peshawar, Pakistan on Tuesday
Truck drivers stand in front of the French consulate on Tuesday after a demonstration by the religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in Islamabad while workers remove a shipping container
Karachi has not officially commented and there are no details on how the boycott might work. Pakistan imported £ 317 million worth of goods from France last year, mainly pharmaceuticals.
Up to 5,000 demonstrators tried to reach the capital Islamabad from the nearby city of Rawalpindi on Sunday, but the authorities blocked their way with shipping containers.
Hundreds of protesters remained at the roadblock all Monday and through Tuesday morning.
TLP claimed that after nightly talks the government agreed to the boycott and also expelled the French ambassador.
A senior government official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the government had no intention of severing diplomatic ties with any country.
He added that the situation had been “treated appropriately” to ensure the demonstrators left peacefully.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs did not provide details of the “successful talks” with the TLP, but the government issued a statement ordering the release of all activists arrested in the past three days.
The French embassy did not respond to requests for comment.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, a religious political party, block a main road during an anti-France rally in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday
People chant slogans as they set the French flag on fire during a protest against the Prophet Mohammad’s comic book publications in France and French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments in Karachi, Pakistan on October 31
Women protest the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Pakistan on Saturday