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Asians Protest Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

  • Ayaz Gul

Fresh protests erupted Monday across Asia against cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad . At least two protesters are reported dead in Afghanistan in clashes with security forces.

In Afghanistan, up to 3,000 protesters took to the streets in several cities, including the capital, Kabul. Police and witnesses in the central city of Mehtarlam say two people were shot dead and several others were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters.

Reports say demonstrators stoned three vehicles belonging to international peacekeepers in the Afghan capital. Security forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters, who also threw stones and smashed windows of a guardhouse at the main U.S. military base in Kabul.

The cartoons have outraged Muslims around the world, because Islamic tradition forbids a graphic depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

Officials and lawmakers in neighboring Pakistan call the cartoons blasphemous, and say they have disappointed the entire Muslim world. They condemn their publication as an unacceptable act on what they call the pretext of freedom of the press. Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz gave his reaction.

"No civilized society should ever make fun or demean another faith," he said. "If we want to build a peaceful world, and build interfaith harmony, such acts like the cartoons, which were published in Europe, does not add to that. In fact, it complicates matters."

Muslim anger at the publication of the cartoons has focused on Denmark, where they were first printed in a newspaper in September. Danish diplomatic missions in Muslim countries have come under attack by angry protesters in the past few days.

Witnesses in India say riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of students protesting the publication of the cartoons. At least four students were reported injured, and police are said to have detained at least 12 protesters.

Protests also raged in Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, where police reportedly fired warning shots to disperse demonstrators in the country's second largest city, Surabaya.

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