The drawings have touched off international fury as well as a debate on the clash between freedom of speech and respect for religion.

In Gaza City in the Palestinian territories after Friday prayers, an estimated 200,000 Hamas supporters marched through the streets to the legislative council, creating a sea of green over the city.

They held signs declaring "Anyone except the Prophet".

The demonstration, the largest the Strip has seen in years, was violence-free, and attended by men, women and children who came from all over the Gaza Strip carrying copies of the holy Quran.

Up to 300 Indonesian Muslims went on a rampage in the lobby of a building housing the Danish embassy in Jakarta on Friday.
   
Shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest), they smashed lamps with bamboo sticks, threw chairs, lobbed rotten eggs and tomatoes and tore up a Danish flag. No one was hurt.

Yuri Thamrin, the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman, said the dispute was not just between Jakarta and Copenhagen.
   
"It involves the whole Islamic world vis-a-vis Denmark and vis-a-vis the trend of Islamophobia," he said.

Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution on Friday condemning the cartoons as "blasphemous and derogatory".

The resolution said: "This vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign cannot be justified in the name of freedom of expression or of the press."

Muslims consider any images of Muhammad to be blasphemous.

"This vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign cannot be justified in the name of freedom of expression or of the press"

Pakistan's parliament

In Palestinian territories, gunmen seized and later released a German, and a hand grenade was thrown into the compound of the French Cultural Centre in the Gaza Strip.

More protests were expected in the Muslim world over the cartoons.

In Iran, worshippers were expected to take part in a nationwide rally later on Friday to protest.

A Jordanian editor was sacked for reprinting them, despite saying his purpose had been only to show the extent of the Danish insult to Islam.

"Oh I ask God to forgive me," Jihad Momani wrote in a public letter of apology.
   
Iraqi Christians said they feared a new wave of attacks by Muslims, driven by anger over the images.

Freedom of speech

European newspapers and officials defended the publication of the cartoons as an expression of media freedom.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, summoned foreign envoys in Copenhagen to discuss the outcry and the government's response to the publication of the drawings, which first appeared in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. 
 

Palestinians take to the streets

Rasmussen said the issue was a question of free speech and he could not control what appeared in the Danish media.
   
Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, condemned the protests.

"I am totally shocked and find it unacceptable that - because there have been caricatures in the West - extremists can burn flags or take fundamentalist or extremist positions which would prove the cartoonists right," he told LCI television.
   
Danish companies have reported sales falling in the Middle East after protests in the Arab world and calls for boycotts.
   
The editor of a Norwegian magazine that reprinted the Danish cartoons said he had received 25 death threats and thousands of hate messages.

Joining the path 
   
In a headline introducing two of the cartoons, the French daily Liberation said: "Liberation defends the freedom of expression."

One of the cartoons depicted an imam telling suicide bombers to stop because heaven had run out of virgins with which to reward them.

"I am totally shocked and find it unacceptable that - because there have been caricatures in the West - extremists can burn flags or take fundamentalist or extremist positions which would prove the cartoonists right"

Philippe Douste-Blazy, the foreign minister of France

Belgian newspaper De Standaard reproduced the pictures along with letters from readers in favour of publication.

Peter Vandermeersch, the Editor-in-Chief, said: "Two values are in conflict here. One is respect for religion and the other is freedom of speech."   

In Italy, at least two papers published the cartoons on their front pages on Friday.
   
Bulgarian daily Novinar also reprinted them and Spain's El Pais reprinted a drawing that had appeared in France's Le Monde newspaper portraying the head of the prophet, formed by lines that read "I must not draw Muhammad".
   
The Sun tabloid, Britain's biggest-selling daily, reprinted the front pages of French daily France Soir and the Danish paper but obscured images of Muhammad with red boxes marked "CENSORED".

Respect for religion

Washington officially sided with Muslims who are outraged that the European publications put press freedom over respect for religion.

Kurtis Cooper, the spokesman for the State Department, said the cartoons were indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims.

He added that the US government fully recognised and respected freedom of the press and expression but that it had to be coupled with press responsibility.

Cooper continued by saying that inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner was not acceptable.