Scandinavian Embassies in Damascus Set on Fire
Several thousand angry demonstrators in Damascus set on fire Saturday the building housing the Danish, Swedish, and Chilean embassies.
The latest reaction to the publication of satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, Swedish Radio News says the attack came after rumors were spread by SMS text messages that Danes were to gather in Copenhagen to burn copies of the Moslem holy book, the Koran.
Reuters reports that the fire has caused major damage to the building. The Swedish ambassador to Syria told Swedish Radio News that all of the embassy’s personnel were safe.
The Danish government has recommended that Danish citizens leave Syria. Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds says Swedes are not being given the same warning, as the protests seem to be aimed at Danes. Speaking to Swedish Radio News, Freivalds was highly critical of the Syrian authorities for not doing more to protect foreign missions in Damscus. The Syrian ambassador to Sweden is being called to the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
Demonstrators later stormed the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, which is housed in a different building. According to the AFP news bureau 11 demonstrators were injured when the Syrian police tried to keep them away from the building. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says the building burned to the ground. The foreign ministry has urged all Norwegians to leave Syria.
Iran has cancelled all trade agreements with any countries publishing the Mohammed cartoons, according to the Iranian news bureau Isna, reported by AFP.
In Denmark Saturday, representatives from around 180 moderate Moslem organizations met to form a network to oppose leading imams in the country. They say the hardline imams who have been quoted in the press only represent at most 15 percent of the 200,000 Moslems in Denmark.
The model for the network comes from Britain.