The trailer of an anti-Islam movie 'Innocence of Muslims' on a social-networking site YouTube stoked angry protests across the Kashmir valley on Friday. Protesters burnt US flags and took to the streets after Friday prayers in several areas but dispersed peacefully.
With tension brewing, the state government too, condemned the film produced in the US. "The government is making every effort to ensure that such video clips carrying blasphemous content are blocked and removed from the cyberspace," said an official spokesman in a statement in Srinagar.
The spokesman added, "The government strongly denounces this desecrating act. Such acts are aimed at causing discord among the people of different faiths."
However, the official statement did little to assuage public anger over the film insulting prophet Muhammad, the most revered prophet of Muslims. Angry protesters set afire a US flag outside the old city's Jamia Masjid. "Down with America, we love our Prophet," shouted the protesters.
The authorities made an elaborate security arrangement across the valley to keep protesters at bay. Despite beefing up security, protests were reported from north and south Kashmir districts too. Devotees took to the streets after Friday prayers at several mosques in Srinagar and raised slogans against the US and the movie.
Around a dozen separatist leaders, including Hurriyat faction's chairmen Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, were put under house arrest by the police.
The move was made to stop these separatist leaders from addressing Friday congregation and converting them into major demonstrations.
"It's unacceptable to Muslims to accept any kind of insult to prophet. It's unfortunate that such dangerous acts take place in the garb of free speech," said the Mirwaiz, while appealing to the Organisation of Islamic Countries to put pressure on the Western countries to stop repeat of such acts.
Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman Zahid Ali said, "All those involved in planning, producing, releasing and promoting the American film, which is based on derogatory, defamatory and blasphemous material quite against the historical facts, have very badly hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
"America should lose no time in taking stern action against these enemies of the humanity for these blasphemous acts."
Pro-government priest Mufti Bashir-ud-Din asked visiting Americans to leave the valley immediately. "Passions are running high in the valley because of the insult to the prophet in the American movie. I advice Americans to leave the valley," said Din.