February 25, 2006

UN, Arabs, Muslim body urge restraint in cartoon row

DOHA (Reuters) - The United Nations, Arab states and the
world's largest Islamic body called on Saturday for restraint
and dialogue to ease tensions over cartoons of the Prophet

The cartoons first published last year in a Danish
newspaper and since reprinted in other European papers have
sparked worldwide protests by Muslims who believe it is
blasphemous to depict the Prophet.

Dozens have died in violence related to the protests.

"All of us now join to renew our call for restraint and for
an immediate end to the present atmosphere, which threatens to
sow deep discord between communities, societies and countries,"
said a joint statement, issued after a meeting in Qatar
attended by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"We deeply regret the offence given by the caricatures, as
well as the loss of life and damage to property in several
countries," said the statement issued by Annan and the heads of
the Arab League and the 57-member Organization of the Islamic
Conference, who were also at the meeting.

The group said it would try to propose measures to help
overcome the crisis.

"We urge everyone to resist provocation, overreaction and
violence, and turn to dialogue. Without dialogue we cannot hope
to appeal to reason, to heal resentment or overcome mistrust,"
said the statement, also issued by the foreign ministers of
Qatar, Spain and Turkey who attended the meeting.

"We also reaffirm the right to peaceful protest, especially
where deep hurt has been caused, and we acknowledge that
Muslims do indeed feel deep hurt over the caricatures," it