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Musharraf: Cartoon Controversy Uniting Muslims


Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says the controversy over editorial cartoons of the Islam's prophet, Muhammad, is uniting moderate and radical Muslims. As he spoke, thousands of Pakistanis protested, and there were several instances of violence, as the caricatures continue to fuel anti-western rage across the Muslim world.

Speaking to reporters in the capital, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said the pictures offended all Muslims, from the most moderate to the most radical.

A Danish newspaper originally published the drawings last September. Since then, mostly European papers have reprinted the controversial cartoons to express their support for a free and open media.

President Musharraf described the newspapers' campaign as both pathetic and ridiculous.

The drawings have provoked massive demonstrations across the Muslim world.

In Pakistan, outraged protesters rallied for a second straight week against the controversial cartoons.

More than 10,000 people gathered outside the capital, Islamabad, shouting anti-western and anti-Jewish slogans.

Pakistani protesters are increasingly venting their anger at an ever-wider list of alleged villains, including Jews, Americans, and various European countries.

In several cases, the demonstrations have also erupted into violent clashes with authorities.

In the northwestern city of Peshawar, police fired tear gas and used wooden clubs to disperse up to six-thousand angry protesters.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Tasneem Aslam, called for the United Nations to take a greater role in resolving the global dispute.

"There is already a consensus on this issue among Muslim countries that, while we believe in the freedom of expression, it is not a license to hurt the sensitivities of others," he said.

Meanwhile, several U.S. and European leaders are suggesting some Islamic countries, including Iran and Syria, have exploited the incident to fuel anti-western sentiment.

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