Cartoon protests rage in the Middle East

Protests have continued against the publication in many countries of the cartoons originally carried by a Danish newspaper and seen by Muslims as insulting to Prophet Muhammad.

    Syrian protesters set Denmark and Norway's embassies on fire

    In Lebanon, security forces on Sunday fired tear gas at a crowd of more than 10,000 demonstrators set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut to protest against publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad.

    More than 4000 people demonstrated across Afghanistan on Sunday against the caricatures and police in one city fired into the air to disburse a group of rowdy protesters, officials said.

    No one was hurt in the shooting in the northern city of Fayzabad, said local deputy governor Shams ul-Rahaman. He said the police were preventing some 1000 demonstrators from marching toward the offices of the UN and other aid groups.

    In the central Afghan city of Mihtarlam, 3000 demonstrators burned a Danish flag and demanded that the editors at the Danish newspaper be prosecuted for blasphemy, said Sher Mohammed Safi, a local governor.

    Kandahar gathering

    More than 100 people gathered at a mosque in the southern city of Kandahar and demanded that the government sever diplomatic ties with Denmark, Maulvi Mohammed Karim, who attended the meeting, said.

    Iran has recalled its ambassador to Denmark in protest. Iran also has formed a committee to review trade ties with countries that have published the cartoons.

    A Muslim cleric raises slogans as
    Denmark's Beirut mission burns

    Thousands of Syrian demonstrators on Saturday set Danish and Norwegian embassies on fire in protest against the publishing of the cartoons by European newspapers.

    Dozens of Palestinian youths too have tried to storm the European Union office in Gaza in protest at the cartoons.

    Pakistan has summoned diplomats of several European countries to protest against the reprinting of the cartoons.

    Jordan's state prosecutor has arrested the editor of a tabloid weekly newspaper who reprinted the caricatures.

    Reactions

    Muhammad Hanif, a Taliban spokesman:

    "Silence from the Muslim world has encouraged other European newspapers to reprint the blasphemous cartoons."

    Muhammad Ziyad al-Ayubi, Syria's minister of Islamic Endowments: 

    "We have the right to protest and we have the right to express (our anger) but we do not have the right to exceed the boundaries drawn by Islam in protesting."

    Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, prominent Muslim cleric in Qatar:

    "We must tell Europeans, we can live without you. But you cannot live without us. We can buy from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia ... we will not be humiliated."

    US State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper: "These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims.

    We all fully recognise and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable."

    Peter Vandermeersch, editor-in-chief of the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, which reproduced the pictures: "Two values are in conflict here. One is respect for religion and the other is freedom of speech."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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