Denmark: Caricature Of Prophet Mohammed Outrages Muslim World

TUNISIA, (AFP) – Cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed in the Danish and Norwegian press provoked boycotts and angry protests across the Muslim world yesterday as interior ministers from 17 Arab countries called on the Danish government to punish the authors. “The council of Arab interior ministers strongly denounce the offence to Islam and the prophet published in the Danish press and ask the Danish government to firmly punish the authors of these offences,” the council said in a statement after a meeting in the Tunisian capital. Saudi Interior Minister Nayef Ben Abdel Aziz called on other Arab countries to recall their ambassadors from Copenhagen. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador last week and a boycott of Danish products is under way in the kingdom. Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said before the meeting that the European press “fears being accused of anti-Semitism, but invokes freedom of expression when it caricatures Islam.” The Moroccan Islamist newspaper Attajdid praised protests across the Arab world. “A strong cry of fidelity to this great prophet must emanate from Morocco,” the paper said. A council of 15 senior Moroccan theologians condemned the association of Mohammed with “execrable” actions “diametrically opposed to what the messenger of God came to fight against”. The 12 cartoons, entitled “The Faces of Mohammed”, originally published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, were reproduced in the Norwegian magazine Magazinet on January 10. They include a portrayal of Mohammed wearing a time bomb-shaped turban and show him as a wild-eyed, knife-wielding Bedouin flanked by two women shrouded in black. The Algerian foreign ministry denounced the “outrageous injuries” to the prophet and warned that the cartoons were harmful to religious dialogue and relations between nations. Sudan turned down a visit by Denmark’s defence minister and urged all firms to boycott Danish products, the official news agency SUNA reported. In Gaza, a picture of Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was set alight during a protest outside the UN compound in Gaza City. Protestors also torched pictures of Israel’s acting prime minister Ehud Olmert and US president George W Bush while gunmen fired bullets into the air. “This barbarous offensive on Islam is the result of a campaign of incitement against Islam waged by Bush,” Nafez Azzam, a Jihad leader, told reporters.