Published February 11, 2006
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Tens of thousands of Muslims demonstrated against the drawings of the Prophet Muhammed after Friday prayers, some shouting anti-American slogans and burning Danish flags to vent their rage.
Rallies in Asia were the largest on the continent since demonstrations throughout the Muslim world erupted over the drawings first published in a Danish newspaper in September and recently reprinted in other European publications. One depicted the prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse.
In Kenya, police shot and wounded one person as they sought to keep hundreds of demonstrators from marching to the residence of Denmark's ambassador.
In Pakistan, rallies erupted around the country after prayers with some protesters burning foreign-made cheese and breaking windows while others clashed with police. The largest gathering was in the capital Islamabad, where 5,000 supporters of radical Islamic groups demonstrated peacefully in the center of the capital.
Thousands also demonstrated in Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, while smaller rallies were held in Indonesia and the Philippines. Some protested outside mosques while others marched on the diplomatic missions of Denmark.
In Egypt, thousands protested across the country and some clashed with police who tried to disperse them with water canons and tear gas. Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protested, some firing rifles in the air while others burned Danish flags. About 2,000 Muslim worshippers marched in Jordan under tight security.
Many Muslims considered the caricatures offensive to Islam, which is interpreted to bar images of the revered prophet. The Danish newspaper that first published the drawings has apologized for causing Muslims any offense but the Danish government has said it cannot apologized for something done by its free press.
In Pakistan, Mian Aslam, a leader of a coalition of Islamic groups, delivered a fiery speech urging Pakistan to sever ties with any country where the drawings were published. The turnout in Islamabad was the biggest in Pakistan since protests against the cartoons began about a week ago.
About 2,000 protesters briefly clashed with police in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, where they burned foreign-made dairy products. The crowd attacked shops before they were charged by police. At least half a dozen small protests were held around the southern city of Karachi.
In Kenya, thousands of demonstrators, shouting "Down with Denmark!" marched from the largest mosque in downtown Nairobi to Kenya's foreign ministry, where they were expected to deliver a protest note. At least 200 demonstrators tried to go the home of the Danish envoy, triggering clashes with anti-riot police near a major highway, when one person was injured.
Israeli police in Jerusalem unsuccessfully tried to prevent protests by barring all men under the age of 45 from attending Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, Islam's third-holiest site. Despite the efforts, about 2,000 women, young boys and older men marched around the Dome of the Rock shrine on the compound, chanting "Bin Laden, strike again."
In India, thousands of angry Muslims kicked, spat on and tore Danish flags and burned effigies in the capital, New Delhi, and in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.
In Bangladesh, more than 5,000 Muslims watched by hundreds of riot police marched on Denmark's embassy in the capital, Dhaka, burning the country's flag and shouting, "Death to those who degrade our beloved prophet!"
In Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur, about 3,000 protesters marched from a mosque to the high rise building housing the Danish Embassy shouting: "Long live Islam. Destroy Denmark. Destroy Israel. Destroy George Bush. Destroy America!"
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi talked of a "huge chasm that has emerged between the West and Islam," particularly because of Muslim frustrations at Western policies toward Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official praised Indonesia and Malaysia for their handling of the controversy, saying the two countries proved that Islam and democracy were compatible.
"The protests dissipated fairly quickly and there was a public discussion of it," said Eric John, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
Small demonstrations were also held in Indonesia, where protesters burned tires in one town.
Denmark earlier this week advised its citizens to leave Indonesia after its embassy was stormed by a mob and pelted with eggs.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Friday he considered the violent reactions to the cartoons "are completely disproportionate to the offense that could possibly have been given."