JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Thousands of Afghan students blocked a highway and threatened attacks on foreign troops on Sunday in the latest protest against the reprinting of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish papers.
Sunday’s protest near the city of Jalalabad on the highway leading to Pakistan followed violent demonstrations a day earlier in the western city of Herat against the cartoon and a film on the Koran by a right wing Dutch politician.
Chanting anti-Western slogans, the marchers in Jalalabad burnt Danish and Dutch flags demanding the cartoonist and the politician, who plans to release his film this month, be put on trial.
“If our demands are not fulfilled, we will stage more protests and resort to suicide attacks against the foreigners,” said Ibrahim, a university student.
The demonstrators also demanded Kabul freeze its ties with the Dutch and Danish governments and expel troops from the two countries who operate under NATO’s command in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has called the reprinting of the cartoon an attack against Islam and one official has warned it would swell the ranks of al Qaeda and its Taliban allies.
Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders is expected to release his film, thought to be critical of the Koran, later this month. Wilders has given few details, but in the past he has called the Koran a “fascist” book that “incites violence.”
The cartoon — one of 12 that prompted bloody riots in many Muslim countries in 2006 — was republished by a number of Danish papers last month to show solidarity with the cartoonist after three men were arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill him.
Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet offensive.
Ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban Islamic movement has branded the planned film and reprinting of the cartoon as part of a “Crusader war” against Muslims.