Danish PM warns of ‘global crisis’ over protests

The Danish prime minister described the violent demonstrations over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad a “growing global crisis” that could spin out of control, as he repeated a call for dialogue.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused “radicals, extremist and fanatics” of exploiting the dispute to “push forward their own agenda.”

“I want to appeal and reach out to all people and countries in the Muslim world. Let us work together in the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance,” Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday.

The Danish leader’s plea came amid growing unrest over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Norwegian troops clashed with about 250 protesters armed with assault rifles and grenades, who attacked the NATO base in the northwestern town of Maymana in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Some in the crowd fired light weapons and threw stones and hand grenades, and the Norwegian troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and warning shots, Sverre Diesen, commander of Norwegian forces told reporters.

At least three demonstrators were killed, and 25 were wounded in the fracas, while some 50 others were hurt by tear gas. Seven NATO soldiers were hurt, Diesen said.

The violence prompted the United Nations to pull its staff out of Maymana, and two Norwegian aid groups began pulling out of the nation.

What Muslims Should Be Outraged Over:

Meanwhile, in the Afghan capital of Kabul, police used batons to beat stone-throwing protesters outside the Danish diplomatic mission office and near the offices of the World Bank.

Security has already been ramped up in the city, which is home to some 3,000 foreign diplomats, aid workers and others, after four people were killed and at least 19 hurt in clashes in Afghanistan on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the town of Pulikhumri north of the capital, some 5,000 people clashed with police.

In the western city of Herat, more than 3,000 lobbed stones at government buildings and an Italian peacekeeping base, but no one was believed to be injured.

According to reports, thousands protested in about half a dozen other towns and cities across Afghanistan, but no one was injured in those demonstrations.

In neighbouring Pakistan, some 5,000 people took to the streets in Peshawar, chanting “Hang the man who insulted the prophet” and burning likenesses of a cartoonist and Denmark’s prime minister.

Chief Minister Akram Durrani, the province’s top elected official who led the rally, demanded the cartoonists “be punished like a terrorist.”

“Islam … insists that all other religions and faiths should be respected,” he said.

“Nobody has the right to insult Islam and hurt the feelings of Muslims.”

In Iran, a prominent newspaper upped the ante by inviting foreign cartoonists to enter its competition for cartoons on the Holocaust.

The newspaper Hamshahri is owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is known for his opposition to Israel.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, charged that the publication of the cartoons was an Israeli conspiracy motivated by anger over the victory of the militant Hamas group in the Palestinian elections last month.

“The West condemns any denial of the Jewish holocaust, but it permits the insult of Islamic sanctities,” Khamenei said.

The European Union responded by warning Iran that attempts to boycott Danish goods or cancel tarde contracts with European nations would exacerbate deteroriating relations.

The cartoons prompted outrage after they were published by a Danish newspaper in September, then reprinted in European media last week.

Elsewhere, China condemned newspapers for publishing the cartoons and called for calm among enraged Muslims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said publishing the caricatures “runs counter to the principle that different religions and civilizations should respect each other and live together in peace and harmony.”

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Feb. 7, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday February 8, 2006.
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