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More Violence Threats Over Mo Cartoons

Has there ever been a group of people who were so easily and perpetually incensed as the Moslems?

The latest installment of their seemingly everflowing outrage from the DNC’s Associated Press:

Pakistani religious students burn an effigy of Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in Multan, Pakistan, Thursday Feb. 2, 2006. Demonstrators held nation-wide rallies and burnt Danish and French flags and effigies of their leaders to condemn the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in France and Denmark.

Feb 2, 10:25 AM EST

Anger Over Drawings Spreads Among Muslims

By IBRAHIM BARZAK
Associated Press Writer

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European media surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon.

In Paris, the daily newspaper France Soir fired its managing editor after it republished the caricatures Wednesday, and Pakistani protesters chanting "Death to France!"

Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct, and they warned hotel owners not to host citizens from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.

Militants in Gaza said they would shut down media offices from France, Norway, Denmark and Germany, singling out the French news agency Agence France Presse.

"Any citizens of these countries, who are present in Gaza, will put themselves in danger," a Fatah-affiliated gunman said as he stood outside the EU Commission’s office in Gaza. He was flanked by two masked men holding up their rifles.

If the European governments don’t apologize by Thursday evening, "any visitor of these countries will be targeted," he said.

The furor over the drawings, which first ran in a Danish paper in September, cuts to the question of which is more sacred in the Western world – freedom of expression or respect for religious beliefs. The cartoons include an image of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.

Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet to prevent idolatry. The drawings have divided opinion within Europe and the Middle East, where they have prompted boycotts of Danish goods, bomb threats and demonstrations against Danish facilities.

France Soir and several other European papers reprinted the drawings in a show of solidarity with the Danish daily.

Foreign journalists were pulling out of Gaza on Thursday, and foreign media organizations were canceling plans to send more people in.

Norway suspended operations at its office in the West Bank town of Ram, just outside of Jerusalem, after receiving threats connected to a Norwegian newspaper’s publication of the cartoons.

"There were threats from two Palestinian groups, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, against Danish, French and Norwegian diplomats," Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Rune Bjaastad said.

The ministry was also considering whether to evacuate the office’s 24 staff members and their families, he said.

Jan Pirouz Poulsen, the Danish representative office’s deputy head, said there were six Danes in Gaza and about 20 in the West Bank, and that all had been urged to leave "until the situation improves."

Raif Holmboe, the head of Denmark’s representative office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said the office would be closed Friday, following the threats, and no decision has been made whether to reopen Monday. Holmboe said shots had been fired at the Ramallah office earlier this week while the building was empty. No one was hurt.

Palestinian security officials said they would try to protect the foreigners in Gaza. However, police have largely been unable to do so in the past, with 19 foreigners kidnapped – and released unharmed – in recent months, mostly by Fatah gunmen.

Emma Udwin, a European Union spokeswoman in Brussels, said security measures have been taken in light of the threats against foreigners. She did not specify.

Outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Thursday condemned the caricatures, saying they "provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world."

"We hope that the concerned governments are attentive to the sensitivity of this issue," Qureia said.

He asked gunmen not to attack foreigners. "But we warn that emotions may flare in this very sensitive issues."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Islamic militant Hamas, which defeated Fatah in last week’s Palestinian parliamentary election, also demanded an apology from European countries. However, he said foreigners in Gaza must not be harmed in the protests.

Thursday’s events began when a dozen gunmen with ties to Fatah approached the office of the EU Commission in Gaza. Three jumped on the outer wall and the rest took up position at the entrance.

The group demanded apologies from the governments of Norway, Denmark, France and Germany and called on Palestinians to boycott the products of these countries.

A leaflet signed by a Fatah militia and the militant Islamic Jihad group said the EU office and churches in Gaza could come under attack and urged all French citizens to leave Gaza. Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza distanced themselves from the gunmen.

The gunmen left after about 45 minutes. The Palestinian employees of the EU Commission had not come to work Thursday. Foreigners working at the office are based outside Gaza, and only visit from time to time.

Gunmen had briefly taken over the same office Monday in protest.

In Pakistan, more than 300 Islamic students protested, chanting "Death to Denmark" and "Death to France."

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Austrian Ambassador Stigel Bauer, as representing the European Union, to protest the publication, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Bauer expressed "sorrow" over the incident and promised to convey Iran’s protest to his government and other EU countries, the agency reported. Austria currently holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation European Union.

A Jordanian newspaper took the bold step of publishing three of the caricatures Thursday, saying it was reprinting them to show readers "the extent of the Danish offense."

Next to the drawings, the Arabic weekly Shihan said in a headline: "This is how the Danish newspaper portrayed Prophet Muhammad, may God’s blessing and peace be upon him."

Shihan’s editor-in-chief, Jihad al-Momani, told The Associated Press that he decided to run the cartoons to "display to the public the extent of the Danish offense and condemn it in the strongest terms."

"But their publication is not meant in any way to promote such blasphemy," al-Momani added.

Morocco and Tunisia barred sales of France Soir’s Wednesday issue. French publications are normally widely available in the largely Muslim countries, formerly French colonies.

Iraqi Islamic leaders urged worshippers to stage demonstrations from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra following main weekly prayer services Friday to condemn the caricatures.

The director of media rights group Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, called for calm. "We need to figure out how to reconcile freedom of expression and respect of faith," he said.

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad drawings.

Meanwhile, just a little over two years ago a drawing of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon eating a baby won the British Political Cartoon Society’s annual competition for " Cartoon of the Year ":

The image “http://www.honestreporting.com/images/browncartoon.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Sharon: “What’s wrong? Have you never seen a politician kissing a baby?”

And never mind that any day of the week you can find the most grotesquely anti-Semitic cartoons on the pages of almost every Arab newspaper.

Any excuse will do to take hostages, kill people and blow things up.

(Thanks to She Angst for her assist.)

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, February 2nd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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