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Militant Indonesian Muslim Groups Attack Danish Embassy Over Cartoons


Protesters from two militant Indonesian Muslim groups have forced their way into the building housing the Danish embassy during a protest over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. Other demonstrations condemning the cartoons have been taking place across Asia.

Dozens of members of the hard-line Muslim group, the Defenders of Islam, or FPI, pushed past security guards into the lobby of the Danish embassy building in Jakarta Friday. They were demanding to speak to the ambassador about the publication of the 12 cartoons, which they view as an insult to Islam.

Several protesters threw eggs at the embassy's coat of arms, while one carried a poster that read, "Let's slaughter the Danish ambassador."

Danish ambassador Niels Erik Andersen says he was in a meeting about the publication of the cartoons with another militant Muslim group, the Majelis Mujahideen Indonesia, when the FPI forced their way into the building.

"Actually I used the opportunity to update them on the most recent developments in Denmark, not least that the Danish newspaper on the 30 of January issued a very, very clear apology to Muslims of the world," said Andersen. "And then, the following day, the 31 of January, the Danish Prime Minister gave a statement to the press welcoming the apology by the newspaper and very clearly stating the government's position…all this material was made available to our visitors in Bahasa Indonesia."

Police and protest leaders quickly ejected the demonstrators from the building. No one was hurt and no arrests were made.

The Danish ambassador says the meetings with both militant groups ended well.

"I felt that the meetings went well," he said. "I felt that they listened to what I said and as a matter of fact the first group, they thanked me for providing the information and they said now was time to look ahead and that we should work together to secure peace in the world."

Indonesia, a secular nation, has the world's largest Muslim population.

Muslim tradition bans the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed to prevent idolatry, which is forbidden.

Outrage has escalated in the Islamic world in the past few days after newspapers in Europe reprinted the caricatures in an attempt, they say, to defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Pakistan's largest religious opposition group the MMA organized mass protests in cities across the country.

In the capital Islamabad hundreds of people chanted anti-Danish slogans.

Senior MMA lawmaker Liaqat Baluch says the cartoons have created a dangerous rift between the West and Muslim countries.

"It is our demand that there should be action against these papers who have damaged Muslim sentiment and it is our demand that Muslim countries withdraw their ambassadors to protest," said Baluch.

The Pakistan senate passed a resolution condemning the cartoons and urged the government to consider unspecified economic retaliation.

Protests also took place in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Malaysia, which have predominantly Muslim populations.

In Singapore, the Islamic Religious Council also condemned the drawings, saying their publication was aimed at inciting hatred against Islam.