PARIS,(Reuters) – Angry Muslims attacked a building housing the Danish embassy in Indonesia on Friday as more European newspapers reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that have caused outrage across the Islamic world.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen summoned foreign envoys in Copenhagen for a meeting to discuss the outcry and the government’s response to the publication of the drawings, which first appeared in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Muslims consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous and the cartoons have touched off an international row and a debate on freedom of the media and respect for religion.
Up to 300 militant Indonesian Muslims went on a rampage in the lobby of a building housing the Danish embassy in Jakarta.
Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), they smashed lamps with bamboo sticks, threw chairs, lobbed rotten eggs and tomatoes and tore up a Danish flag. No one was hurt.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said the dispute was not just between Jakarta and Copenhagen.
“It involves the whole Islamic world vis-a-vis Denmark and vis-a-vis the trend of Islamophobia,” he said.
Rasmussen, who was meeting ambassadors later on Friday, said the issue was a question of free speech and he could not control what appeared in the Danish media.
Danish companies have reported sales falling in the Middle East after protests in the Arab world and calls for boycotts.
Palestinian gunmen seized and later released a German on Thursday, and a hand grenade was thrown into the compound of the French Cultural Centre in the Gaza Strip.
European newspapers said the publication of the cartoons was an expression of freedom of the media.
“Liberation defends the freedom of expression,” French daily Liberation said in a headline introducing two of the cartoons, one of which depicted an imam telling suicide bombers to stop because Heaven had run out of virgins to reward them.
In Italy, at least two papers published the cartoons on their front pages on Friday.
“Objectively, the cartoons are fairly ugly and are not funny — but the point is not the quality of the drawing or the punchline,” said Vittorio Feltri, editor of maverick right-wing daily Libero.
“This is about accepting or refusing the principle that it is possible to laugh at, or even just criticise, a mentality, a religion, a way of understanding spirituality,” he wrote.
Bulgarian daily Novinar also reprinted the drawings and Spain’s El Pais reprinted a cartoon that had appeared in France’s Le Monde newspaper portraying the head of the Prophet Mohammad, formed by lines which read “I must not draw Mohammad”.
The Sun tabloid, Britain’s biggest-selling daily, reprinted the front pages of French daily France Soir and the Danish paper but obscured images of Mohammad with red boxes marked CENSORED.
More protests were expected in the Muslim world over the cartoons, one of which shows the Prophet Mohammad wearing a turban resembling a bomb.
In Iran, worshippers were expected to take part in a nationwide rally after Friday prayers to protest.