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London protest: Calls for arrests

Signs calling for death denounced as 'disgraceful'



Should the Muslim protesters in London who have threatened death and terrorist attacks be arrested?
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Great Britain

LONDON, England -- London police were under pressure to arrest Muslim protesters who carried signs threatening death and terrorist attacks at a demonstration over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Scotland Yard received more than 100 complaints after Friday's protest outside the Danish Embassy, the UK's Press Association reported.

Police said they would study video of the demonstrators taken by specialist officers, The Sun newspaper reported, and a police spokeswoman told PA that any arrests would be made "at the appropriate time."

Conservative opposition spokesman David Davis said slogans such as "Massacre those who insult Islam" and "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come" amounted to incitement to murder and that police should take a "no tolerance" approach to them.

On Monday British PM Tony Blair criticized the behavior of the demonstrators as "completely unacceptable." He also condemned attacks on European interests.

Blair said he spoke Monday morning with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, to offer Britain's full support and say that they stand together in solidarity.

"The attacks on the citizens of Denmark and people of the European community were completely unacceptable, as is the behavior of some of the demonstrators in London over the past few days," Blair said in a statement read by his spokesman.

A range of British Muslim organizations condemned the London protest, including the moderate Muslim Council of Britain to the more radical Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which Prime Minister Blair wants to outlaw because of claims it supports terrorism.

"While strongly condemning the publication of these caricatures, we also unequivocally condemn those who are urging violent protests or inciting hatred against others," Hizb-ut-Tahrir spokesman Imran Waheed told PA.

The organization held a less incendiary protest in London on Saturday, which passed off without incident.

Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said the Muslim community would welcome eventual arrests and prosecutions of those brandishing the placards.

"The placards that were on display were quite disgraceful and in our opinion seemed to constitute a clear incitement to violence, even murder," Bunglawala told Reuters.

Meanwhile, a Muslim man who dressed as suicide bomber at Friday's protest apologized for his actions after first being reported as defending them.

Omar Khayam, 22, met reporters outside his home in Bedford, north of London, and said he "wholeheartedly" regretted causing offense.

Earlier, he was quoted by the Daily Express newspaper as saying he wanted to highlight "double standards."

"I can't make any apologies for it. I didn't go there to cause anyone any harm. I went along just to attend a protest. Yet I have almost been branded a suicide bomber overnight," Khayam was quoted as saying.

"Did I say, 'Kill Jews'? No. Did I have racist signs on me? No. So why this reaction?

"I would do it again to make a point. I could have gone and held up banners or something, but this made the point better. If certain people have the right to do what they want and other people don't, then that is double standards."

The British government has called in the row over the cartoons after a third embassy was torched by protesters in the Middle East.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the burning of the Danish mission in the Lebanese capital Beirut, following similar attacks on Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria, was "absolutely outrageous and totally unjustified."

The cartoons were originally published by a Danish newspaper last September.

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

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