Muslims' Fury Rages Unabated Over Cartoons
Saturday, February 11, 2006
COPENHAGEN, Feb. 10 -- Tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East after weekly prayers on Friday, burning Danish flags and shouting anti-Danish and anti-American slogans in a continuing convulsion of anger over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
Demonstrators marched in at least 13 countries -- Kenya, Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Israel and Jordan -- as the global wave of protests, spurred by a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting Islam's holiest figure and the reprinting of those cartoons in newspapers in other countries, headed toward a second consecutive weekend.
The protesters defied calls for calm from several prominent Muslim leaders and organizations as well as a statement of regret from Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and an apology by editors of the newspaper that originally published the cartoons. "The government has done what can be done," Rasmussen said in an interview Thursday. "Neither the government nor the Danish people can be held responsible for what is published in an independent newspaper. And neither the government nor the Danish people have any intention whatsoever to insult Muslims or any other religious community."
In Kenya, police shot and wounded at least one protester Friday as they tried to protect the Danish ambassador's residence. Thousands of demonstrators shouting "Kill Danes! Down with Denmark!" marched from Nairobi's largest mosque following Friday prayers. Riot police fired on a group of at least 200 people who had tried to reach the home of the Danish envoy, Bo Jensen.
"We've certainly heard their message and hope they will go home," Jensen told the Reuters news agency.
In Pakistan, more than 5,000 people demonstrated peacefully in Islamabad in the largest rally in the country since the controversy began. Another 2,000 protesters fought with police in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, several thousand protesters marched from a mosque to the Danish Embassy, shouting, "Destroy Denmark! Destroy Israel! Destroy George Bush! Destroy America!" Others carried placards supporting an economic boycott that has almost halted Danish exports to the Middle East and North Africa.
Addressing a large crowd, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi described a "huge chasm that has emerged between the West and Islam," not simply because of the cartoons, he said, but because of Western policies regarding oil, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In India, thousands of angry Muslims kicked, spat on and tore Danish flags and burned effigies in the capital, New Delhi, and in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, the Associated Press reported. In Bangladesh, more than 5,000 Muslims marched on Denmark's embassy in the capital, Dhaka, shouting, "Death to those who degrade our beloved prophet!"
In the Middle East, about 2,000 women, young boys and older men marched around the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem chanting "Bin Laden, strike again!" Large crowds of protesters in Gaza fired gunshots into the air and burned Danish flags. Thousands clashed with police in Egypt.
About 2,000 Muslims marched in Jordan. Demonstrators in Tehran threw gasoline bombs at the French Embassy and shouted, "Death to France!" and, "Death to America!" Several French newspapers have reprinted some of the Danish cartoons.
The violence came despite calls for calm from Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a senior cleric.