Afghans Continue 'Cartoon' Protests

Ad Feedback - JALALABAD, Afghanistan - Several thousand Afghans demonstrated in the city of Jalalabad Sunday to protest Denmark's reprinting of a cartoon satirizing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

"We are ready to sacrifice ourselves, we are ready to go on mounting jihad ["holy" war]," one of the protestors, Qudratullah Noristani, told Associated Press Television.

"We are ready to spend all our belongings and sacrifice our entire family to defend our prophet," he said, as angry demonstrators chanted death to the Netherlands and death to Denmark and burned their flags.

Sunday's demonstrations in eastern Afghanistan followed Saturday's in the western part of the country.

"Death to America," the crowd shouted at Saturday's protests. "We are here today to show our anger for what happened in Denmark and to all infidels [non-Muslims] in the leadership of criminal America for what is going on in the world," one man told AP Television.

Rioters are incensed over Denmark's decision last month to reprint Kurt Westergaard's controversial cartoon depicting Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. After Danish police uncovered a plot to kill Westergaard, more than a dozen Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoon in an expression of solidarity for freedom of the press.

"We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper will always defend," said the Copenhagen-based Berlingske Tidende.

Three other European newspapers -- in Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain -- also reprinted the cartoon in their coverage of the arrests in Denmark.

In the Netherlands, a short film by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, reportedly portraying Islam as a fascist and violent religion, further fueled the protests in Afghanistan.

Last week, 200 Afghan lawmakers demonstrated at parliament, shouting "Death to the enemies of Islam." Afghan's lawmakers called on the Danish and Dutch governments to curtail blasphemy by their citizens against Islam.

In many Islamic nations, criticism of Muhammad or the Koran is punishable by death, and any physical representation of Muhammad is tantamount to blasphemy.

On Wednesday, local officials demonstrated in Kabul, burning Dutch and Danish flags and demanding that their troops leave Afghanistan.

Denmark has nearly 800 troops and the Netherlands 1,650 in Afghanistan as part of the NATO'S International Security Assistance Force.

Meanwhile, the UN called for peaceful dialogue to quell the violent reactions of Afghan's lawmakers and citizens over the cartoons and the film.

Source: The Associated Press

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