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Iranian Minister Urges End to Violent Protests Against Prophet Cartoons


Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has called for an end to violent protests against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr. Mottaki said Iran does not support violence but that freedom of expression must be exercised with sensitivity -- a reference to the argument that the cartoons were published in Europe under such freedom.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict said mutual respect for the world's religions and their symbols is urgent and necessary. But he said intolerance and a violent response to any offense to religious feelings can never be justified.

In Pakistan, a hardline Islamist political alliance said it plans to broaden its campaign against the controversial cartoons.

The alliance's leader (Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Majlis-i-Amal) made the vow as he was released from house arrest in Lahore.

He was one of hundreds of Islamic hard-liners arrested in Pakistan before a banned protest on Sunday in the capital, Islamabad.

In neighboring Afghanistan, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, some 2,000 students called for Islamic nations to cut ties with Denmark in a new protest against the cartoons.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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