January 31, 2006

Gazans burn Danish flags, demand cartoon apology

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Thousands of Palestinians protested for a
second day on Tuesday against Denmark for allowing cartoons of
the Prophet Mohammad to be published, saying an apology by the
newspaper involved was not enough.

Demonstrators burned Danish flags, chanted "War on Denmark,
Death to Denmark" and called for an Arab boycott of products
from the small north European country until it showed
contrition for the satirical caricatures deemed blasphemous by

Their anger was a symptom of the reaction the cartoons have
caused across much of the Muslim world. One drawing showed
Mohammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.

Saudi Arabia has already recalled its ambassador from
Copenhagen and Libya has closed its embassy.

Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Danish ambassador in
protest and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki demanded an
apology from the Danish government and the newspaper.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told the Danish
ambassador of the government's "condemnation of the insult and
disrespect expressed by a daily Danish newspaper," his ministry
said in a statement.

"Qatar does not accept anything that ridicules Islam or the
Prophet," said the Gulf state's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad
bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani.

After threats against Danes by Palestinian gunmen and a
widespread boycott in the Middle East of Danish products, the
newspaper that published the cartoons in September said sorry
in a statement to the Jordanian news agency, Petra.

"The drawings are not against the law but have indisputably
insulted many Muslims, for which we shall apologize,"
Jyllands-Posten said on Monday.

However, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
repeated that his government could not apologize on behalf of
independent media who had only exercised their right to free


This was not enough for the protestors in Gaza City.

"We feel great rage at the continued attacks on Islam and
the Prophet of Islam and we demand that the Danish government
make a clear and public apology for the wrongful crime," Nafez
Azzam, a leader of Islamic Jihad, told the crowd of supporters
of his militant group outside U.N. headquarters.

"The apology by the newspaper is not enough."

Protestors fired bullets in the air, chanted anti-Danish
slogans and burned Danish and U.S. flags as well as portraits
of Rasmussen and U.S. President George W. Bush.

Azzam called for a pan-Arab boycott of all Danish products,
many of which -- dairy goods, shampoo and sweets for example --
are sold in the Palestinian territories.

Denmark's Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller would discuss
the issue on Tuesday with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in
London, the Danish news agency Ritzau said.

Muslim leaders in Denmark accepted the newspaper's apology
and urged an end to the boycott.

"We will in clear terms thank the prime minister and
Jyllands-Posten for what they have done," said Kasem Ahmad,
spokesman of the Islamic Religious Community in Denmark.

But in Iraq, the influential Sunni Muslim Cleric's
Association backed the boycott which Saudi religious leaders
have also supported, and widened it to Norway where a newspaper
also printed the cartoons.

Danish-Swedish dairy producer Arla is laying off workers
because of a fall in demand, Danish media said.

(Additional reporting by Karin Lundback in Copenhagen,
Miral Fahmy in Dubai, Baghdad bureau)