Merkel condemns violence in anti-Danish demos
6 February 2006, Muslim indignation over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in the European press continued unabated Monday, with further violence in several countries around the globe.
6 February 2006
Muslim indignation over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in the European press continued unabated Monday, with further violence in several countries around the globe.
In Afghanistan, one demonstrator was killed in the eastern city of Mihtarlam and two demonstrators and two policemen wounded during a protest there, according to Afghan Interior Minister spokesman Yousif Stanikzai. In the Bagram area north of the capital Kabul two demonstrators died and two were wounded after shooting during a protest, Bagram's security chief Mawlana Abdul Rahmen said.
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, hundreds of Indonesian Muslims took to the streets in several cities to condemn the Mohammed caricatures.
In the East Java capital of Surabaya, police fired warning shots after a group of about 300 Muslim activists from the Islamic Defender Front forced their way into the US consulate in the second-largest city in Indonesia.
Iran meanwhile was tensely awaiting a demonstration planned for Monday evening at the Danish embassy, on a day of violent clashes between demonstrators and police at a protest demonstration in front of the Austrian embassy in Tehran.
Demonstrators tried to set the Austrian embassy ablaze but could only burn down the embassy gate, witnesses said. A large number of police and anti-riot forces could not prevent the fire at the gate but succeeded in preventing further damage.
The Tehran Fire Department quickly arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire, witnesses said. Police had in the meantime dispersed the crowd from the embassy area. The Austrian embassy was apparently chosen as Austria is the current European Union president.
In New Delhi, at least 16 people including 11 policemen were injured during a protest by students.
Police at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the Indian capital said 11 policemen and two students were treated for injuries after the police tried to prevent students from Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI) from reaching the Danish embassy.
In Cairo, thousands of Egyptian students demonstrated in universities across Cairo to protest against the cartoons while calls for a boycott of Danish products continued.
More than 10,000 students marched at the Azhar University campus in a Cairo suburb condemning the caricatures while an additional 5,000 students at Helwan and Cairo universities also staged separate protests organized by the student unions on campus.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz met the visiting Italian deputy foreign minister in Islamabad and condemned publication and reprinting of blasphemous caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed in the European media, an official statement said.
"Publication of these sketches has profoundly hurt the sentiments of Muslims all over the world," Aziz told Margherita Boniver, days after Pakistan formally lodged protests with at least nine European countries through their envoys in Islamabad.
Amid the ongoing Muslim protests, Western leaders both came forward to criticize the media for publishing the caricatures, but also to condemn the violence by demonstrators.
In Brussels, Johannes Laitenberger, spokesman for the EU Commission, said "We are aware that the cartoons published in European media have aggrieved many Muslims around the world, but no grievance - perceived or real - justifies acts of violence such as perpetrated on the weekend."
The Commission condemned the violence in the strongest possible terms, he underlined. But it also acknowledged that the majority of Muslims "have clearly distanced themselves from such violence," Laitenberger added.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while she could understand the outrage felt in Arab countries, it did not justify the violence.
"Violence cannot be an instrument in the argument," she said. "I can understand that people in Arab nations are outraged by these cartoons, but this does not justify violence during demonstrations."
In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac firmly condemned the violence against Danish interests in the Muslim world. In a telephone conversation with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Chirac "expressed his condemnation of all acts of violence directed against the Danish and foreign embassies and his solidarity with Denmark," Chirac's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said.
In the Czech and Slovak republics, Catholic leaders criticized the publication of a Danish editorial cartoon that's triggered angry reactions from Muslims around the world.
Separate statements suggesting the cartoon of Islam's Prophet Mohammed had gone too far were released in Bratislava by the chairman of the Slovak Bishops Conference, Monsignor Frantisek Tondra, and in Prague by the head of Czech Catholics, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk.
Meanwhile in Copenhagen, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which initially published the 12 caricatures last September 30, said it is considering a request by imams in Denmark to publish a joint statement.
The proposal by Imamg Ahmed Akkari would be for the newspaper to "unambiguously" apologize for the cartoons, in return for which the imams would urge Muslims to stop their protests. Jyllands-Posten chief editor Carsten Juste said the proposal was "well worth considering."
Subject: German news, international news