Afghanis gone wild: Four dead in Mohammed cartoon hysteria - falls short of Koran flush rumor death toll
February 7, 2006
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=83cda0ee-6b71-45cc-8c6d-9a91126d739a&k=56051&p=2 Clashes in Afghanistan leave 4 dead in protests over Prophet drawings
Monday, February 06, 2006
KABUL (AP) - Afghan security forces opened fire on demonstrators Monday, leaving at least four dead, as increasingly violent protests erupted around the world over published caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. European and Muslim politicians pleaded for calm.
The worst of the violence was outside Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, with Afghan police firing on some 2,000 protesters as they tried to break into the heavily guarded facility, said Kabir Ahmed, the local government chief.
Two demonstrators were killed and five were injured, while eight police also were hurt, he said. No U.S. troops were involved in the clashes, the military said.
Afghan police also fired on protesters in the central city of Mihtarlam after a man in the crowd shot at them and others threw stones and knives, Interior Ministry spokesman Dad Mohammed Rasa said.
Two protesters were killed, and three other people were wounded, including two police, officials said. The demonstrators burned tires and threw stones at government offices.
The unrest also spread to East Africa as police in Somalia fired into the air to disperse stone-throwing protesters, triggering a stampede in which a teenager was killed and raising to six the number of deaths in protests related to the publication of the series of cartoons satirizing Islam's holiest figure.
Lebanon, meanwhile, apologized to Denmark a day after thousands of rampaging Muslim demonstrators set fire to the building housing the Danish mission in Beirut to protest the drawings.
At least one person died. Thirty were injured - half of them security officials - and about 200 people were detained in Sunday's violence, officials said. Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said the arrested included 76 Syrians, 35 Palestinians and 38 Lebanese.
The European Union issued stern reminders to 18 Muslim countries that they were obliged under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect foreign embassies, and Austria - which holds the EU presidency - said it called in a top representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to express concerns for the safety of diplomatic missions.
The prime ministers of Spain and Turkey issued a Christian-Muslim appeal for calm, saying "we shall all be the losers if we fail to immediately defuse this situation."
But Turkey's Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, said media freedoms cannot be limitless and that hostility against Muslims was replacing anti-Semitism in the West.
Anger has spread over the 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten in September and recently reprinted in European media and elsewhere in what the newspapers say is a statement of free speech.
One depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The Danish paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media were practising self-censorship when it came to Muslim issues.
The drawings have touched a raw nerve in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.
The protesters in Afghanistan threw stones at the U.S. base and smashed a guard post. Some of those in the crowd then shot at the base with assault rifles, prompting the police to return fire, Ahmed said.
U.S. military spokesman Lieut. Mike Cody said American troops did not fire on the crowd and security was left to the Afghan police.
About 200 protesters also tried to break down the gate of a the Danish government's diplomatic mission office in the capital, Kabul, but failed, said police who were guarding the building.
The protesters then threw stones at the mission and beat some officers guarding it, as well as some guards at a nearby house used by Belgian diplomats.
Police later used batons and rifle butts to disburse the demonstrators who had walked toward the presidential palace.
Thousands of other people demonstrated peacefully in at least five other cities. The spreading unrest came a day after some 4,000 Afghans took to the streets across the country.
Several thousand Iraqis rallied in southern Iraq, burning Danish, German and Israeli flags, as well as an effigy of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to demand diplomatic and economic ties be severed with countries in which the caricatures were published.
Protesters called for the death of anyone who insults Muhammad and demanded withdrawal of 530-member Danish military contingent operating under British control.