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Muslim and Arab Leaders Call for Calm in Cartoon Controversy


Muslim outrage over the publication in Europe of political cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed has led to violent outbursts in several Arab countries. There have been calls for calm from several leaders in the Islamic world.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he condemns the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. He says Muslims all over the world are angry.

"There is no point in trying to insult the sentiments of cultures or religions - any culture, any religion," he said. "No newspaper in our country should do a thing like that with regard to other religions. And no newspaper or TV in any other country should do it with regard to other religions."

During an appearance on CNN's Late Edition program, President Karzai said that he has discussed the matter with the prime minister of Denmark, where the cartoons originated. He indicated an apology is not enough, and he would like to see those responsible lose their jobs.

But at the same time, he noted that Islam teaches forgiveness, and he urged his fellow Muslims to do just that.

"Therefore, as much as we condemn it strongly, we must stay above this dispute, and not bring ourselves to equaling ourselves to those publishing the cartoons," he said.

In another interview on CNN, Saudi Ambassador to Washington Turki Al-Faisal called the caricatures offensive and a horrible depiction of the prophet. But he, too, called on Muslims to show restraint and resolve the controversy quietly. He said, in Saudi Arabia, those offended by the cartoons sent emissaries to meet with Danish officials.

"The kingdom is not a country that is prone to violent demonstrations. People express their views more calmly and discreetly," he said.

The latest country to see a violent outburst in reaction to the political cartoons was Lebanon. Angry protesters torched a building housing the Danish Consulate in Beirut. Police shot tear gas and water cannons in an effort to disperse the stone-throwing crowd, as Muslim leaders called for calm.

The outburst in the Lebanese capital followed demonstrations Saturday in neighboring Syria, where unruly crowds set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.

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