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Pakistani students torch Danish flag over cartoon

Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:38pm EST

KARACHI, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Chanting “Death to the cartoonist”, dozens of Islamist students burned the Danish flag in southern Pakistan on Thursday after the republication of a caricature of Prophet Mohammad.

In Kuwait, several parliamentarians called for a boycott of Danish goods. “The government has to take action against Denmark,” said Waleed al-Tabtabai, a member of parliament.

“The sons of dogs published drawings that are offensive to the Prophet.” Kuwait’s deputy prime minister Faisal al-Hajji said the Gulf Arab country would make an official complaint.

There was also a peaceful protest outside the Danish embassy in Tehran where the ambassador was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to receive a formal protest.

The reprinted cartoon was one of several published in 2005 which later triggered attacks on three Danish embassies and riots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people were killed.

A Danish citizen of Moroccan descent and two Tunisians were arrested on Tuesday for planning to murder 73-year-old Kurt Westergaard, a cartoonist at Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that originally published the drawings in September 2005.

Up to 50 youths from the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a right-wing anti-government Islamist party, protested in the Pakistan city of Karachi.

Grouped outside the Karachi Press Club, the students held up banners reading “We strongly condemn the act of insulting the Prophet by the Denmark Press” and “Prime Minister of Denmark and the Pope should apologise to the Muslim community”.

The image reprinted on Wednesday depicts the Prophet with a bomb in his turban.

The boycott calls in Kuwait were led by Islamist MPs who demanded the government set up a fund to defend the image of the Prophet. However, the session fell short of the quorum required for parliament to issue official demands.

“The government will make contacts over this case and we will not accept insults to the Prophet,” the Kuwaiti deputy prime minister said.

Soren Haslund, Denmark’s ambassador to Iran, said up to 25 protesters gathered outside the embassy after a Web site called for action over the republication of the cartoon.

He closed the embassy 1-1/2 hours early as a precaution, Haslund told Reuters. Iranian police were sent to protect the mission, he said. (Reporting by Faisal Aziz, Mahmoud Harbi in Kuwait and Edmund Blair in Tehran; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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