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WikiLeaks: Syria Encouraged Anti-Cartoon Protest

Wikileaks web site releasing U.S. diplomatic cables
Wikileaks web site releasing U.S. diplomatic cables

A U.S. diplomatic cable appearing on the Wikileaks website says Syria promoted violent protests against controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad four years ago in which European embassies in Damascus were attacked.

The cable quotes the U.S. embassy charge d'affaires Stephen Seche as saying Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari asked mosque preachers to unleash fiery sermons on the eve of the protests.

The cartoons, including one of the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb, first appeared in a Danish daily and set off protests throughout the Muslim world.

Many Muslims believe their faith forbids any images of the Prophet.

The embassies of Denmark and Norway were torched in the Syrian protests.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Damascus at the time of inciting the violence. Syria disputed the charges.

The February 5, 2006 cable says that Syrian officials seem "to have miscalculated and lost control" of the protests.