Muslims protest in Brussels as Islamic rage grows
6 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Thousands of Muslims staged a spontaneous protest march in Brussels on Sunday as outrage against the depicting of Mohammed in satirical cartoons spread further across the Islamic world.
6 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Thousands of Muslims staged a spontaneous protest march in Brussels on Sunday as outrage against the depicting of Mohammed in satirical cartoons spread further across the Islamic world.
Some 4,000 Muslims took to the streets of the Belgian capital on Sunday afternoon, moving from the Brussels North train station to the offices of public broadcasters VRT and RTBF on the Reyerslaan.
Angered by cartoons of Mohammed that first appeared in the Danish newspaper 'Jyllands-Posten', the protestors wanted to show the media that freedom of speech is not an absolute right.
They demanded respect from the media for the Islamic faith and shouted: 'Don't touch my religion', newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Monday.
The protest was at times tense, but the demonstration largely passed off without incident and ended at about 6pm. The only unrest involved several youths throwing stones at the US embassy. Police had sealed off the Danish embassy to ward off any problems.
But in an indication of the deep unrest among Belgian Muslims, the Arab European League (AEL) of Dyab Abou Jahjah placed three anti-Semitic cartoons on its website over the weekend.
Belgian Islamic politicians urged for calm, but have especially requested understanding from the public and government authorities for the insulted feelings of Muslims, both in Belgium and abroad.
However, they also said that repeats of violence witnessed internationally would not be tolerated in Belgium.
In Lebanon on Sunday, Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh resigned after protestors destroyed Beirut's Danish embassy despite the deployment of 1,200 security officers and 1,600 soldiers to prevent violence.
About 200 people were arrested, including more than 70 Syrians and some Palestinians. At least 30 people were injured, including police and fire brigade officers.
Elsewhere, protestors in Syria torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday.
The violence prompted Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller to call for calm. "It is a critical situation and it is very serious," he said.
He said further that the riots were no longer about the cartoons, warning that some "powers" were instigating a confrontation of cultures. "This is in no one's interest, neither ours nor theirs."
The EU, the US and NATO condemned the rioting. Lebanese politicians and the US have accused the Syrian government of supporting the protests in Lebanon to undermine the government.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news