Shops in Pakistan's Punjab province have shut as the opposition parties called a strike in protest at cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.
Police have been brought in to keep peace in Pakistani cities
Private schools and colleges have been shut and government-run schools have observed an informal day off.
The main markets in the province's capital, Lahore, are also closed.
The protests over the cartoons, originally published in a Danish paper in September, come as US President George W Bush is due to visit Pakistan.
Similar shop closures have been reported in Multan, Faisalabad and Gujranwala, says the BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore.
In the south-western border town of Chaman in Balochistan province, between 4,000 and 5,000 people held a peaceful protest, the Associated Press agency said. Demonstrators shouted: "Go back Bush! Bush, dog!" and "God is great."
Another rally, involving around 3,000 people, took place in the northern city of Peshawar in North West Frontier Province.
It is not clear when Mr Bush will arrive in Pakistan. He is due to hold talks with President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Saturday.