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Muslims March Against Reprinting of Danish Newspaper Cartoons Depicting Muhammad

Muslims protested Friday in the Gaza Strip, Pakistan and Denmark against the reprinting of a Danish newspaper cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Thousands of residents in the conservative Gaza Strip ruled by the militant Islamic Hamas movement marched in the Jebaliya refugee camp chanting: "What Denmark said is heresy."

"It is shameful that Denmark should renew its offense against the prophet," Hamas official Mushir al-Masri told reporters at the protest.

In Pakistan, hundreds of people rallied in various parts of the country, setting fire to Danish flags and demanding the Danish ambassador's expulsion. And in Denmark, a prominent Danish imam urged rioting youth to stop setting fires and hurling rocks at police.

The protests came after Denmark's leading newspapers reproduced one of 12 cartoons of Islam's prophet Wednesday in a gesture of solidarity after police said they uncovered a plot to kill the cartoon's artist. The drawings had sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world in 2006.

About 200 students from the International Islamic University in Islamabad vowed to organize a street march next Friday if the government did not accept their demand.

"We are even ready to sacrifice our life for our beloved Prophet," said Mahmood Sadiqui, a student leader.

About 200 people held a similar rally in Multan, a main city in the eastern Punjab province, burning Danish flags and chanting "Death to the Cartoonist!" and "Boycott, boycott of European products!"

At two rallies in Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi, about 150 supporters from radical Islamic parties torched effigies of the Danish prime minister amid calls to boycott Danish products.

Mohammad Imran, a student leader from Islami Jamiat Talba, a student organization linked with Pakistan's largest Islamic political group, Jamaat-e-Islami, called the cartoon "blasphemous."

"We demand the rulers to sever diplomatic ties" with Denmark and Sweden for publishing the cartoons. "The cartoonist and publisher must be hanged."

It was the second protest in Karachi in as many days. Dozens of Islamic students set fire to a Danish flag on Thursday. In Pakistan, blasphemy of Muhammad is considered a serious crime that carries the death sentence.

In Copenhagen, about 800 people protested peacefully in a march organized by the radical Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Meanwhile, a prominent Danish imam urged rioting youth to stop setting fires and hurling rocks at police after a fifth consecutive night of vandalism there and in other Danish cities.

"Please stop what you're doing," Imam Mostafa Chendid, the leader of the Islamic Faith Community, said in an address to young people during Friday's prayer. "The prophet has not taught you to burn down schools, or burn cars or infrastructure."

Nine youths were arrested overnight Friday in Copenhagen, six of whom faced preliminary charges for throwing rocks at police officers, police said Friday. There were no reports of injuries.