Ensure security, EU tells Muslim states

The European Union has stepped up pressure on Arab and Muslim countries to reign in protesters angry over cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad.

    Protesters in Tehran climb the walls of the Danish Embassy

    In a strongly worded statement issued late on Monday,  Austria, the current holder of the EU presidency, said it had instructed its embassies in the Middle East, Asian and African countries to demand increased security measures for European citizens and premises after a wave of anti-European violence by Muslim protesters.
      
    Ursula Plassnik, the Austrian foreign minister, said national authorities must take the necessary steps to ensure security.

    The countries included Egypt, Algeria, Ethiopia, Iran, Jordan, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates as well as the Palestinian Territories.

    All were "reminded of their obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect the diplomatic missions of the EU member states," the statement said.
       
    The call follows the torching of Danish diplomatic missions in Damascus and Beirut at the weekend, attacks on the EU office in Gaza last week and the petrol bombing of the Danish embassy in Tehran on Monday.

    Danes warned

    "The authorities ... were reminded of their obligations to protect the diplomatic missions of the EU"

    EU statement

    On Tuesday, Denmark urged its citizens to leave Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, which also saw demonstrations in South Sulawesi province during the visit of Jorgen Paulsen, secretary-general of the Danish Red Cross, to the governor's office in Makassar.

    Niels Erik Andersen, the Danish ambassador to Indonesia, told reporters: "The Foreign Ministry is advising Danes not to travel to Indonesia and Danes already in Indonesia to leave the country."
       
    EU ambassadors held emergency talks on Monday to discuss a response to the violence triggered by the re-publication in several European newspapers of cartoons first published by a local Danish daily last September.
       
    Depicting Prophet Muhammad is prohibited by Islam. One of the cartoons showed the prophet with a turban resembling a bomb.

    EU complaints

    Flag burnings have become a
    common sight in recent days

    Following the violence of the past few days, Austria's diplomatic representatives in Damascus, Ram Allah and Beirut have also protested to the governments concerned," the statement said.
       
    "In the name of the EU, they have demanded that protection for European citizens be ensured and further acts of violence prevented under all circumstances."
       
    Austria also summoned the representative of the country chairing the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and "the concerns of the EU were once again clearly expressed to the member countries of the OIC", the Austrian statement added.
       
    An EU official said Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, was in touch with the main international organisations in the Muslim world  -the OIC, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council - to urge them to help restore calm.
       
    The official said EU institutions should focus on trying to get Arab and Muslim states to control their streets and rein in violence rather than engaging in a divisive debate over the limits of freedom of speech and respect for religion. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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