Deadly cartoon riot near U.S. base

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    khoảng 1 10 năm trước
  • KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan police have shot and killed several protesters trying to storm a U.S. military base, bringing the death toll from this week's violent demonstrations over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to at least 10.

    Hundreds of protesters hurled rocks at police in the southern city of Qalat on Wednesday. Officers first fired into the air to try to clear the crowd but turned their guns on protesters as they tried to attack the base, provincial police said.

    Reuters quoted police and medical officials as saying three people were killed and 20 others wounded, while police told The Associated Press the death toll was four.

    Eyewitnesses told CNN five people were killed, possibly including a police officer. Qalat is the capital of Zabul province, which is in the heartland of the Afghan insurgency.

    Similar clashes elsewhere in Afghanistan on Monday and Tuesday left seven people dead.

    Protesters held several smaller anti-cartoon demonstrations across the country on Wednesday, including in the capital Kabul, where hundreds of university students chanted "Death to the Danish! Death to Americans!"

    The cartoons were first published in September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and have since been republished in other European newspapers and in parts of Asia, the United States and the Middle East.

    One of the cartoons showed Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. Any depiction of Mohammed is forbidden in Islam for fear it could lead to idolatry.

    Elsewhere on Wednesday, more than 1,000 people rallied in the capital of Bangladesh, burning Danish and Italian flags, while about 300 Palestinians attacked an international observer mission in the West Bank city of Hebron, AP reported.

    Sixty members of the mission were inside at the time, Gunhild Forselv of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron told AP. TIPH serves as a buffer between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the city.

    In Baquba, Iraq, at least 700 people demonstrated peacefully Wednesday morning. The protest, organized by the office of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, demanded an apology to all Muslims from the Danish government.

    But Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his government has nothing to apologize for, saying the Muslim world had a "false picture" of his country.

    "I think everybody should realize that neither the Danish government nor the Danish people can be held responsible for what is published in a free and independent newspaper," he told CNN's Matthew Chance.

    Anyone seeking redress should turn to the courts, he said.

    "We do have legislation which sets certain limitations on the freedom of expression." He cited "racist and blasphemous" expressions as among those not allowed.

    "It's up to the courts to decide whether the law had been infringed; it's not up to the government."

    Denmark, Rasmussen said, is not getting a fair shake. "We are portrayed as a society which is intolerant and an enemy of Islam, and it's a false picture."

    Such messages -- often spread via the Internet and mobile phones -- have been difficult to counter, he said.

    "It's really a war taking place in cyberspace, and we're not used to it."

    Earlier, Rasmussen blamed the violence on "radical extremists and fanatics" who are "adding fuel to the flames in order to push forward their own agendas."

    "We are facing a growing global crisis that has the potential to escalate beyond the control of government and other authorities," Rasmussen told a news conference Tuesday.

    The cartoons also have prompted boycotts of Danish goods throughout the Muslim world. In Dubai, travel agents said travelers aren't booking flights to Denmark or Norway, where the cartoons were also published.

    Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, said he does not believe there is "a direct linkage" between the publication of the cartoons in September and the eruption of protests this month.

    "Only after a group of radical Danish imams traveled to the Middle East in December and January, deliberately lying about the situation ... trying to ignite public opinion against Denmark, did all these tragic events start to unfold," he said.

    "I think it is a tragedy," he said. "And I do think these cartoons are not worth a single human life." (Watch editor's interview with CNN -- 5:05)

    Rose told CNN he came up with the idea of publishing the cartoons after several local cases of self-censorship involving people fearing reprisals from Muslims.

    "There was a story out there and we had to cover it," Rose said. "We just chose to cover it in a different way, according to the principal: don't tell it, show it."

    "I do not regret it," Rose said. "I think it is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt at a discotheque Friday night. In that sense, in our culture, if you're wearing a short skirt, that does not necessarily mean you invite everybody to have sex with you.

    "As is the case with these cartoons, if you make a cartoon, make fun of religion, make fun of religious figures, that does not imply that you humiliate or denigrate or marginalize a religion."

    Rose also said his paper was trying to contact a prominent Iranian newspaper that said it would hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust.

    Rose said Jyllands-Posten wants to publish those cartoons on the same day the Iranian paper Hamshahri does.

    Hamshahri said it wanted to test whether the West would extend the principle of freedom of expression to the Holocaust as it did to the Mohammed caricatures. (Full story)
    'Deeply alarmed'

    The head of the world's largest Muslim organization has joined U.N. and European Union leaders in condemning the violence.

    "We call on the authorities of all countries to protect all diplomatic premises and foreign citizens against unlawful attack," read a statement by U.N. chief Kofi Annan, EU foreign policy head Javier Solana and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    The three said they were "deeply alarmed at the repercussions" the cartoons have caused.

    "These events make the need for renewed dialogue, among and between communities of different faiths and authorities of different countries, all the more urgent. We call on them to appeal for restraint and calm, in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect."

    Their calls were echoed by members of Afghanistan's top Islamic cleric's group, who went on radio and television Wednesday to appeal for calm.

    "Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," senior cleric Mohammed Usman told AP. "We condemn the cartoons but this does not justify violence. These rioters are defaming the name of Islam."

    In Indonesia, both government and top Islamic leaders also called on Muslims to prevent rallies from becoming violent, news agencies said.

    Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also urged an end to the violent protests and called for a balance between free expression and respect for religious and cultural differences.

    "The press should decide in a responsible way what it publishes," he said. "Although states might not subscribe to the content of media publications, it is not up to governments to influence the content of the press.

    "The nature of the content of these cartoons, however, cannot and does not legitimize violence."


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