From London to Jakarta, fury at Mohamed cartoons grows

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank in some of the biggest Palestinian demonstrations in a decade. In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, anger boiled over as up to 300 hardline Islamist activists went on the rampage in the lobby of a Jakarta building housing the Danish embassy.

Washington stepped into the row to condemn the cartoons. But the United States has opened itself up to the accusation that by inserting itself into the controversy it is seeking to repair its own battered image among Muslims.

"These cartoons are offensive to the belief of Muslims," a State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said. "We all fully recognise and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with responsibility."

In Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf condemned the cartoons. "I have been hurt, grieved and I am angry," he said, describing European papers reprinting the cartoons as "vicious, outrageous and provocative". He said the cartoons would escalate the "clash of civilisations" between the West and the Islamic world, and that the newspapers that printed them were "oblivious of what is happening in the world".

In Gaza, Danish flags were burned after 10,000 protesters marched along the main Omar al-Muktar Street to a rally organised by the Islamic group Hamas, which won last week's Palestinian elections. And while some imams urged restraint in their Friday prayers, others were outspoken. At the Omari mosque in Gaza City, 9,000 worshippers were told those behind the cartoons should have their heads cut off. In the West Bank city of Nablus, Imam Hassan Sharif said: "If they want a war of religion, we are ready."

The clashes in Indonesia underlined Denmark's unwanted role as a focal point for Muslim anger at perceived Western blasphemy. Demonstrators outside the embassy in Jakarta pelted the Danish coat of arms with eggs, tore down the flag and set it on fire.

They pushed their way past security guards into the building housing the embassy, but were stopped by their leaders before they could reach the offices on the 25th floor.

In Bangladesh, some 4,000 people demonstrated against the cartoons in the capital, Dhaka, chanting: "Apologise to Muslims." Many joined the protest after Friday prayers at the city's main mosque.

"Put a brake on your so-called unlimited freedom of expression, otherwise you will not be spared," Moulana Kazi Morshed al-Haq, leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organisation, said at the otherwise peaceful rally.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said: "As much as we condemn this, we must have, as Muslims, the courage to forgive and to not make an issue of dispute between religions or cultures."

But, although protests around Asia provided dramatic pictures, they were small and restrained by local standards.

At least 15 people were killed in anti-US riots in Afghanistan after Newsweek reported US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet - a report the magazine later retracted.

The largest gatherings on the so called "day of anger" came in Gaza City, where bullets were fired into the air as protesters chanted: "There is no God but God and the Prophet is the messenger of God," and "We sacrifice our blood and soul to you, Prophet of God."

Mushir al-Masri, a newly elected member of the PLC, told the rally: "The victory for Hamas was a political earthquake and the insult to the Prophet Mohamed was another earthquake."

Yesterday one of the leading Christian Palestinian clerics in Gaza, Father Manuel Mussallam, said that "Mohamed is a high Arab personality".

He said that the Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar had met him and Christian nuns on Thursday within an hour of complaints about a statement issued by Fatah and Islamic Jihad armed militants. These warned that churches in Gaza, along with the EU office, would be "bombarded" if plans for a Koran-burning protest in Denmark went ahead.

He added: "We are not afraid of Hamas. We fear fanatics and there are fanatics in all religions, Christian, Muslim even Buddhist."

The global demonstrations against the cartoons spread to Britain as hundreds of Muslims marched through London protesting at what they see as a media attack on Islam.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: "There is freedom of speech, we all respect that, but there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory. I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong."

Muslim leaders will today call on broadcasters and newspapers to show restraint when they meet in Birmingham.

A number of television broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV News and Channel 4 News, chose to illustrate their bulletins this week by showing how European newspapers had used the newspaper images.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker