Fury Over Caricatures

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with diplomats from Muslim countries to defuse the row over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

While Rasmussen conveyed Denmark’s respect for Islam, he said his country will not apologize.

Newspapers in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Hungary have reprinted the caricatures this week, saying press freedom is more important than the protests and boycotts they have provoked.

Many Arab commentators said the European defence rings hollow because, they said, European media protected Judaism and Israel from criticism.

Meanwhile, from Tunisia to Indonesia, anger is spreading:

Up to 300 militant Indonesian Muslims went on a rampage inside the lobby of a Jakarta building housing the Danish embassy. Demonstrators screamed ”Let’s go jihad!” and a poster said, ”Let’s slaughter the Danish ambassador!”

Palestinian gunmen seized and later released a German after militants demanded an apology for the caricatures.

In Sudan, Norwegian and Danish aid organisations were forced to interrupt work after young Muslims threw stones at their vehicles.

In short: massive demonstrations against Danes and other Europeans have taken place; Danish flags have been burnt; ambassadors recalled; Danish products boycotted and Scandinavians in Muslim countries have been threatened.

The head of Lebanon’s fundamentalist Hezbollah movement said, ”The international community should understand that any attack against our prophet will not go unpunished.”

Friday is of course the Muslim day of prayer, and the Imam at Malmö’s mosque, while demanding an apology advised that it was now time to calm down.  He said it was time to learn from what happened and move on.

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