The World Weighs In as Cartoon Saga Continues | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.02.2006
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The World Weighs In as Cartoon Saga Continues

Governments and commentators called for calm as angry protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed continued to rage in the Arab world. Asian Muslims also spoke out as tensions simmered there.


The protests have been violent in many countries

Hundreds of demonstrators attacked two European embassies in Iran and the regime halted trade with Denmark, amid continued protests over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Governments and international bodies, including those of some Islamic Asian nations, called for calm and compromise. And from Brussels to Tokyo to Moscow to Washington, non-Muslim leaders sought an elusive balance between mollifying Muslims outraged by irreverent caricatures of Islam's prophet, and upholding the principles of free speech.

In the public arena, however, passions remained dangerously inflamed, with worldwide demonstrations against the cartoons causing at least five deaths and dozens of injuries and arrests.

White House condemns 'hate speech'

The White House said it understood Islamic anger but added that Muslims must also condemn anti-Semitic and anti-Christian "hate speech."

Wo man Bücher verbrennt

Syrian demonstrators torched the Danish embassy in Damascus

"We understand fully why people, why Muslims, find the cartoons offensive," spokesman Scott McClellan said, while upholding "the right of people to express their views, and freedom of speech in society."

After a weekend that saw Denmark's embassies torched in Lebanon and Syria, fury over the images continued to spread, with protests held across Afghanistan as well as in Egypt, Indian-held Kashmir, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Thailand.

Afghan protester killed

One Afghan was killed and five others wounded early Tuesday when protesters attacked the offices of Norwegian NATO troops in western Afghanistan. Demonstrators threw hand grenades at the offices of a Norwegian reconstruction team in the city of Maymana, Deputy Governor Sayed Ahmad Sayed said.

Protests also raged in Algeria and Nigeria, and a Danish aid group was forced to halt activities in the stricken Darfur region of Sudan.

Syria rejected Denmark's accusations it had not done enough to protect its embassy in Damascus, a minister saying that police had tried to shield it with their "bodies and blood."

Denmark has been the chief target of Muslim fury as it was a Danish newspaper that first printed the 12 caricatures of Mohammed, last September. Since then they have appeared in newspapers in many Western countries, though not those of Britain and the US.

Iran calls for 'Holocaust cartoons'

In the violence in Tehran, after first smashing and torching the facade of the embassy of Austria (currently European Union president), a group of some 400 student members of the Islamic hard-line Basij militia moved on to Denmark's diplomatic compound and attempted a full-scale assault.

Gottesfürchtig Shoppen, Boykott dänischer Produkte

In Kuwait, Danish products are already off many shelves

Iranian Commerce Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi announced a total ban on Danish imports as well as any other business dealings with the country "until further notice."

Meanwhile, Iran's largest selling newspaper announced it would hold a contest for cartoons of the Holocaust.

"The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," the graphics editor at the Hamshahri newspaper, Farid Mortazavi, told AFP.

Denmark warns nationals in Indonesia

On Tuesday, Denmark warned its nationals in Indonesia to leave the country amid fears that protests there could turn violent. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The advisory came as protests appeared to taper off in Indonesia, with about 50 protestors from Ahlul Bait, an Islamic cultural center, holding a brief rally outside the embassy in Jakarta.

Malaysia's moderate stance

Reflecting the moderate style of Islam practiced in Malaysia, that country's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi -- who had earlier condemned the controversial images -- spoke out against a boycott of Danish products. He also criticized a local newspaper in eastern Sarawak state that reprinted the cartoons over the weekend as "insensitive and irresponsible."

"I am surprised... They didn't think things through. They have been irresponsible as they know this kind of action can lead to ill-feelings," he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

West calls for calm

Elsewhere in the world, charge and countercharge continued with many European governments condemning the violence and expressing sympathy with Denmark. Voices on both sides urged calm.

The European Council of Religious Leaders, which groups representatives of all Europe's religions, condemned both the publication of the cartoon and the ensuing violence in the Muslim world.

Karikaturenstreit - Antidänische Proteste in Djakarta

Indonesian Muslim protestors rallied in front of the Danish embassy Monday

In Brussels, the European Commission denounced the latest wave of violence and called for calm on all sides. The head of the Vatican body responsible for inter-faith relations called for restraint among Christians and Muslims.

Row spreads to Russia, New Zealand

Russia, which had been largely untouched by the cartoons controversy until now, was drawing into the fray when leading Chechen politician Ramyan Kadyrov announced a ban on Danish aid organizations in Chechnya. The Russian government condemned the Arab attacks on diplomatic missions but voiced sympathy for Muslims offended by the controversial cartoons.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark criticized the decision by several media outlets to publish the cartoons, saying it has put the country's people at risk. Three New Zealand newspapers and two television channels have reproduced the cartoons. Clark said the country's newspapers had the right to publish what they wanted, but called their decision to reproduce the caricatures "ill-judged" and "gratuitous."

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which first published the cartoons, is talking to Danish Muslim representatives about a joint declaration, the Ritzau news agency reported, to help calm worldwide tensions.

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