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Denmark: Extremist Muslims Keeping Fury Alive Over Prophet Cartoons


Denmark's foreign minister says extremist Muslims are responsible for violent protests against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and that al-Qaida might exploit the situation.

Per Stig Moeller said it is the extremist forces that wish to keep the violence going.

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

In neighboring Afghanistan, some 2,000 students in Jalalabad called for Islamic nations to cut ties with Denmark.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for an end to violence over the cartoons. But he said in Brussels 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 XVI 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.

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