Pakistani Police Halt Cartoon Protesters Near Governor's House

Associated Press
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb. 13 -- Police fired tear gas and wielded batons Monday to stop about 7,000 students protesting cartoons of the prophet Muhammad from marching on the governor's residence in northwestern Pakistan.

The students had marched to several universities in Peshawar and hurled stones at a Christian school, breaking windows and causing other damage. They also threw stones at shops in the main business district, chanting "Down with America" and "Down with Denmark."

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but students were seen carrying away a classmate with an injured leg.

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, told journalists in the capital, Islamabad, on Monday that newspapers that have printed the caricatures were "being totally oblivious to the consequences for the world, for world peace and harmony."

"The most moderate Muslim will go to the street and talk against it because this hurts the sentiments of every Muslim," he said. "Whether an extremist or a moderate or an ultramoderate, we will condemn it."

The cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper in September, have been reprinted in numerous publications in Europe and elsewhere in what publishers say is a show of solidarity for freedom of expression. Protests have followed, from Canada to Indonesia. Some demonstrations have been violent, and the tension has noticeably increased anti-Western dialogue in the Muslim world.

In the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans Monday to protest the caricatures. The demonstration in Hebron was organized by a school affiliated with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that is poised to lead the next Palestinian government.

One of Iran's largest newspapers, Hamshahri, opened a contest Monday seeking cartoons about the Holocaust. The paper said it wanted to test whether the West extends its principle of freedom of expression to depictions of the Nazi genocide as it did to the cartoons of Islam's prophet.

"We don't intend retaliation over the drawings of the prophet. We just want to show that freedom is restricted in the West," said Davood Kazemi, executive manager of the contest and cartoon editor at the paper.

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