Afghan police clash with crowd protesting Charlie Hebdo

Afghan police say 17 officers, 7 civilians were injured when a protest against Charlie Hebdo turned violent

A protest against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo turned violent Saturday as police clashed with demonstrators outside Kabul.

Police said 17 police officers and seven civilians were injured, according to Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency. Protesters said at least 11 people were wounded, two severely.

The protests came after weeks of peaceful demonstrations elsewhere in Afghanistan over the Paris weekly that published caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

Gen. Rahman Rahimi, Kabul police chief, said the protest was illegal because authorities had not been notified. He said the violence was caused by “gangsters” who opened fire on police officers.

Mohammad Modaser, a member of Jamiat-e Islah, a group associated with the Muslim Brotherhood that had organized several of the nationwide protests, lamented Saturday’s violence.

“Protests in support of prophet Muhammad should always be exemplary and peaceful,” he said.

Modaser, 27, who took part in a protest Jan. 23 that saw hundreds gather in the Afghan capital, said he was worried about the repercussions an attempted attack on public property could have on the larger movement.

At a Friday afternoon protest in the eastern province of Ghazni, a local journalist said protesters were seen burning the French flag.

Protests have occurred sporadically in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other majority Muslim nations against Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked Jan. 7 by gunmen who said they were linked to the Islamic State militant group. The attackers killed 12 people, including an Algerian Muslim police officer and four prominent French cartoonists.

Since the attack, there has been an increase in anti-Muslim incidents in France. According to the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, a watchdog group, there have been 128 anti-Muslim attacks in France in the last two weeks.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

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