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Protests Against Cartoons Continue in Pakistan


There is no let-up in the Muslim anger in Pakistan against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers. Thousands of Pakistanis rallied on Friday for a fifth day across the country, where at least five protesters have died in clashes with security forces.

Protest rallies in Pakistan have been large and violent but Friday's demonstrations ended peacefully. Police are reported to have detained dozens of demonstrators in several Pakistani cities.

Local Islamic leaders in the northwestern city of Peshawar offered rewards on Friday amounting to more than $1 million to anyone who killed Danish cartoonists who drew the images.

A cleric, Atta ur Rehman, who led a rally in Islamabad, the capital, said that more protests are planned in the days to come.

"This will be going on throughout the world unless and until these [cartoonists] are brought to justice and these people apologize," he said.

Cartoons depicting Muhammad as a terrorist were first published in a newspaper in Denmark in September. Since then several other European publications have reprinted them. The images have outraged Muslims around the world because Islamic tradition does not allow any graphic depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

Global protests over the cartoons have triggered fears of a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam and have led to calls on all sides for calm.

During a brief private trip to Pakistan on Friday, former U.S President Bill Clinton said it was a mistake to publish the cartoons, but feared a great opportunity to improve understanding has been squandered.

"This is not a time to burn bridges; this is time to build them," Clinton said. "This is an enormous opportunity, because I can tell you that most people who are not Muslims, are horrified that this much misunderstanding has occurred and don't want violence to come out of it but want greater understanding to come."

Denmark announced on Friday it has temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan and has urged its citizens to avoid travel to the Muslim country. Following the announcement, Pakistan's foreign minister said it has recalled its ambassador to Denmark for what it says are "consultations about the cartoons."

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