Hundreds protest in Paris over Prophet cartoons

6th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 5, 2006 (AFP) - About 1,000 people protested in Paris on Sunday against the publication of cartoons in European newspapers depicting the Prophet Mohammed, saying the drawings were an attack on Islam, police said.

PARIS, Feb 5, 2006 (AFP) - About 1,000 people protested in Paris on Sunday against the publication of cartoons in European newspapers depicting the Prophet Mohammed, saying the drawings were an attack on Islam, police said.

The demonstrators chanted "God is great" and "An attack on the prophet is an attack on all Muslims" as they marched for about two hours between two squares in the middle of the French capital.

Police said the marchers had not notified the authorities about the demonstration, which passed off peacefully and appeared to be spontaneous, with 50 initial participants telephoning or sending text messages to friends.

A young woman giving her name as Nour told French television: "Westerners do not want to understand that they have shown a lack of respect to all Muslims in caricaturing our prophet whom we do not even have the right to portray."

"Our aim is simple: we want public apologies, " said one speaker.

The publication of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, has sparked angry protests and attacks against Western interests in parts of the Muslim world. Three French newspapers have used the cartoons.

Islamic custom bans the use of images of the prophet.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Sunday intervened in the international uproar over irreverent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed with a call for respect for the sensitivities of other faiths.

"We must pay attention to what hurts, what can shock. There isn't the same idea, everywhere in the world, of what is holy and you have to take that into account," he said on French television.

But he condemned the "spiral of violence" in the protests over the cartoons.

"We are not living in any old time and we cannot act in the same way in all eras and all situations," he said, pointing to the "transparency of the world" resulting from the globalisation of the means of communication and information.

Villepin said freedom had to be defended but argued: "It is a matter of knowing that there are sensitivities, different ways of living your religion, and taking that into account," he said.

"Of course we must defend freedom but at the same time — and this is what living together is about — and we must defend respect, respect of others ... in the name of tolerance."

Villepin's comments echoed those of French President Jacques Chirac, who on Friday called for freedom of speech to be used in a spirit of responsibility and respect, in a bid to defuse the row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

While stressing that free speech was fundamental to French culture, Chirac "appealed to all to show the greatest spirit of responsibility, of respect and of good measure to avoid anything that could hurt other people's beliefs," according to the presidency.

While French flags burned in many Muslim countries in protests over the weekend, security forces in the Syrian capital used tear gas and water cannons to prevent demonstrators from attacking the French embassy, AFP reporters said, as an angry protest swelled over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Earlier, crowds stormed the buildings housing the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus, setting fire to both in protest over the publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet which were printed in newspapers in several European countries.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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