Pakistani Parliament debates whether to expel French envoy

A lawmaker from Pakistan’s ruling party has kicked off a debate in Parliament on whether the French ambassador should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A lawmaker from Pakistan's ruling party Tuesday kicked off a debate on whether the French ambassador should be expelled over the publication in France of controversial cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

The resolution from Amjad Ali, a lawmaker from Tehreek-e-Insaf, was seen as a test of whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. It came hours after the country's interior minister announced success in his talks with an outlawed hard-line Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan.

It also came after 10 people, including four police officers, were killed in protests that erupted April 12 after the arrest of Saad Rizvi, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik. Rizvi had threatened the government with mass protests if the French envoy was not expelled.

Earlier on Tuesday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that under the parliamentary resolution, criminal cases against Islamists involved in the deadly anti-France protests would be withdrawn. However, there was no mention of the release of Rizvi or his supporters in the resolution.

Asad Qaiser, speaker of the National Assembly, adjourned the session amid heated debate until Friday, asking the government to address opposition concerns about the wording of the resolution.

The tensions originated last year when France’s president defended as a freedom of speech issue the publication of caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad by a satirical newspaper, drawing condemnation from across the Muslim world.

Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan members also are protesting the arrest of Rizvi, a cleric who emerged as the leader of the group in November after the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi.

Rizvi and his party want the French ambassador expelled under an agreement between the government and Rizvi’s party in February.

The government has said it only committed to discussing the matter in Parliament before April 20, when Ahmad said a resolution would be moved in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

Rizvi’s supporters took to streets across the country last week when police arrested him. The reaction from Rizvi’s supporters against his arrest was so swift that violence quickly spread across the country. Four police officers and at least six demonstrators were killed in the violence.

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Ahmed reported from Islamabad.

Authorities place shipping containers to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Authorities place shipping containers to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Shipping containers are placed by authorities to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Shipping containers are placed by authorities to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Shipping containers are placed by authorities to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Shipping containers are placed by authorities to block a road leading to the capital as a security measure on the possible anti-France protest march by a banned radical Islamists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, react after police fire tear gas to disperse them while protesting the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, react after police fire tear gas to disperse them while protesting the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Credit: Fareed Khan

Credit: Fareed Khan

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, throw stones after police fire tear gas to disperse protests over the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, throw stones after police fire tear gas to disperse protests over the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Credit: Fareed Khan

Credit: Fareed Khan

A supporter of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, throws a stone while another tries to extinguish a tear gas canister fired by police to disperse protests over the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
A supporter of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, throws a stone while another tries to extinguish a tear gas canister fired by police to disperse protests over the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2021. The outlawed Islamist political group freed 11 policemen almost a day after taking them hostage in the eastern city of Lahore amid violent clashes with security forces, the country's interior minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Credit: Fareed Khan

Credit: Fareed Khan

Leaders of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a funeral prayer of their supporter Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Leaders of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a funeral prayer of their supporter Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Leaders and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a funeral prayer for their colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Leaders and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a funeral prayer for their colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

A supporter of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, kisses the casket of his colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, at a funeral prayer, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
A supporter of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, kisses the casket of his colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, at a funeral prayer, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, carry the casket of their colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, at a funeral prayer, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, carry the casket of their colleague Hafiz Muhammad Sarfraz, who was killed in clashes with police on Sunday, at a funeral prayer, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Leaders of of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a protest on the arrest of their party's head Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Leaders of of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, attend a protest on the arrest of their party's head Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a banned Islamist party, chant slogans during a protest on the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

Credit: K.M. Chaudary

A motorcyclist rides past the parliament building, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A motorcyclist rides past the parliament building, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Credit: Anjum Naveed

People stand on a rooftop of the parliament building, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
People stand on a rooftop of the parliament building, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Pakistan's Parliament is expected to consider a resolution on Tuesday about whether the French envoy should be expelled over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet, testing whether the government gives in to threats from radical Islamists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Credit: Anjum Naveed

Credit: Anjum Naveed

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