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Muslim protests over cartoons spread

Indonesians demonstrate outside Danish Embassy

Muslim protesters in Jakarta, Indonesia, burn a Danish flag on Friday.


Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
Islamic Jihad

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- About 200 Muslims demonstrated Friday outside the Danish Embassy to protest caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed originally published in a Danish newspaper, Danish Ambassador Neils Erik Andersen told CNN.

About a dozen of the demonstrators, members of Defenders of Islam, or FPI, broke through security and, once on the embassy grounds, demanded to meet with Andersen, who agreed to do so.

During the meeting, Andersen reiterated an apology made earlier by Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper, whose publication last September of the caricature offended some Muslims. Afterward, he described the meeting as productive.

The issue emerged last fall, when the illustrator of a Danish book on the life of Mohammed demanded to remain anonymous, since the cover depicted the prophet.

In an article last September about the issue, Jyllands-Posten published 12 of the drawings. Other newspapers picked up the story and followed suit, including France's Le Monde and Italy's La Stampa.

On Wednesday, two European newspapers -- Die Welt in Berlin and France Soir in Paris -- also reprinted them, characterizing the publication as a matter of free speech.

Outrage has spread widely in the Muslim world, with Morocco and Tunisia confiscating copies of France Soir.

Demonstrations were slated to be held Friday outside the Danish Embassy in London.

On Thursday, Palestinian gunmen shut down the European Union's office in Gaza City, demanding an apology for the cartoons' publication in Europe. (Full story)

Masked members of the militant groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinians' former ruling party, Fatah, fired bullets into the air, and a man read the group's demands. (Watch masked gunmen demand an apology -- 2:48)

Depicting the picture of the prophet is prohibited under Sharia law.

The publication of the cartoons in Shihan, a weekly tabloid newspaper in Jordan, resulted in the firing of its editor. Shihan published the drawings with an editorial urging Muslims to "be reasonable." It is illegal in Jordan for a publication to defile religion and disturb civil order.

A spokesman for the paper said editor Jihad Momeni, a former member of the Jordanian Senate, had been fired.

In his editorial, Momeni asked, "Who offends Islam more? A foreigner who endeavors to draw the prophet as described by his followers in the world, or a Muslim with an explosive belt who commits suicide in a wedding party in Amman or elsewhere?"

A suicide bombing last November killed 57 people at a wedding party in Amman, which is the capital of Jordan. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for that attack.

Some supermarkets in Jordan pulled Danish butter and dairy products from their shelves, and several firms in Jordan with foreign-sounding names bought newspaper ads declaring they aren't Danish.

French editor fired

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that, after the cartoons were published in France Soir, its publisher, Raymond Lakah, fired France Soir's director, Jacques Lefranc. (Full story)

Le Monde described Lakah as "Franco-Egyptian" and said he had issued a statement saying he had fired Lefranc in "a strong sign of respect to the intimate convictions and beliefs of each individual."

The statement continued: "We present our regrets to the Muslim community and to all people who have been shocked or made indignant by this publication."

Le Monde said that distribution of the edition of France Soir had been blocked in Morocco and copies were seized in Tunisia.

'Incomprehension' over firing

The journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders voiced "incomprehension" at the decision by France Soir's owner to fire his editor.

The group said a statement by Lakah referring to the need to "respect the beliefs and convictions of each individual" is "particularly inopportune at a time that the newspaper is being censored in Tunisia and Morocco and French citizens are being threatened as a result of the publication of the cartoons," the press freedom organization said.

Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, told CNN that the ongoing violence in the Middle East has "very little to do with the cartoons we've printed."

He said the initial uproar "came right after ... radical imams from Denmark traveled to the Middle East, deliberately lying about these cartoons, and deliberately lying about the context."

The imams "were saying that my newspaper was owned by the Danish government, they were saying that we are preparing a new version of the Koran, a new translation of the Koran in Denmark, censoring the word of Allah, which is a grave sin according to Islam," Rose said. "This is a lie."

Still, he apologized for the publication of the cartoons, saying the newspaper did not mean to offend Muslims and said the cartoons had to be understood in context.

Another paper publishes cartoons

Both France Soir and Die Welt said they were publishing the cartoons in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, which they said has the right to publish the cartoons in a free society with a free press. France Soir published the cartoons under the headline, "Yes, one has the right to caricature God."

On Friday, the French newspaper Liberation published two of the cartoons, on page 3. At the French television network TF1, the main newscast broadcast at least one of the cartoons in a full-screen graphic, and the BBC has also been showing them.

CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam.

The Arabic-language news channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a report with the cartoons heavily distorted.

One of the images showed Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

CNN's Kathy Quiano contributed to this story.

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