On Thursday dozens of protesters picketed the governor's office in Makassar, capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province, during a visit by Jorgen Paulsen, secretary-general of the Danish Red Cross.

The Indonesian state news agency Antara quoted Paulsen telling the protestors that the publication of the 12 sketches was a "stupid action".

However, he added: "Our government cannot stop the press from publishing materials that could offend people because the press is extremely free there."

Paulsen was in Makassar to discuss assistance related to the handling of floods in the province.

Rakyat Merdeka, the Indonesian tabloid, published several of the cartoons on its website, with at least one altered to be less offensive, but still prompted criticism from a Muslim legislator.

Yuri Thamrin, the Indonesian spokesman for the foreign ministry said freedom of expression couldn't justify indignity towards a religion.

Muslim anger over the cartoons has triggered a diplomatic crisis, international anger and heated debate on the limits of free expression.