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Terrorism & Security

Muslim anger mounts over cartoons, movie

Sudan threatens to ban Danish aid workers; Europe braces for possible protests.

By Tom McCawley / February 28, 2008

Outrage continued to rise this week in parts of the Muslim world over the depiction of Islam in Danish newspapers earlier this month and the possible release of a film in the Netherlands critical of the religion.

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Muslims in Sudan, Pakistan, Turkey, the Middle East, and other parts of the Islamic world, have been angered over the republication of one cartoon from a 2005 series that satirized Islam's prophet Muhammad. Muslims regard visual depictions of the prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.

Governments in Europe are also bracing for protests against the possible broadcast of an anti-Islamic film by right-wing Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders that links Islam to violence. Mr. Wilders says the film, which he plans to broadcast on the Internet and possibly television, will be finished Sunday, Reuters reports. Pakistan's YouTube shutdown last weekend has been attributed in part to the film's appearance on the video-sharing website.

In Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir said Wednesday that Danes would be banned from Sudan and the Danish peacekeeping force faced possible expulsion. He was speaking before a crowd of tens of thousands denouncing Denmark during a government-backed protest against the republications of the cartoons, reports the Associated Press.

"We urge all Muslims around the world to boycott Danish commodities, goods, companies, institutions, organizations and personalities," Al-Bashir told the crowd.

Mr. Bashir's Islamist government has used other perceived insults to the prophet to bolster support for the regime and oppose the acceptance of United Nations peacekeepers in Sudan.

Denmark's foreign aid minister said Thursday she was considering whether Sudan's call could have an impact on aid to Sudan, South Africa's Independent Online reports. Sudan is one of the largest recipients of aid from Denmark.

One Muslim blogger living in Denmark, Helen Latifi, criticized the reaction from the Sudan – because it was such a large aid recipient – in comments published in the Sudan Tribune. Ms. Latifi called for a boycott of the boycott, claiming Sudan's complaints against Denmark were a double standard.

Earlier in February, 17 Danish newspapers reprinted the 2005 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad originally printed in the local Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and Danish police arrested several people for planning to attack a cartoonist who drew the most controversial caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, reports the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian.

The newspapers said they had republished the cartoons to show a commitment to freedom of speech after an alleged plot was discovered.


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