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UK Quran protests at U.S. Embassy


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- About 300 people have taken part in a noisy protest over the alleged desecration of the Quran outside the U.S. Embassy in central London.

Their demonstration was held Friday near the steps of the embassy in Grosvenor Square, which was guarded by a small detail of police.

A British policeman said the language was offensive and unpleasant in the extreme. But police overlooked that and the fact that more than a few of the young men in the crowd covered their faces, technically a violation of British law, according to the police.

Shouting, "Down, down USA; down, down USA," the protesters called for the killing of Americans, the death of the U.S. president, the death of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the bombing of Britain, and the annihilation of the U.S. capital: "Nuke, nuke Washington; Nuke, nuke Washington! Bomb, bomb the Pentagon."

Some of the militant Islamic rhetoric smacked of incitement to commit murder, CNN's Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers reported. "Death, death Tony Blair; death, death Tony Blair. Death, death George Bush," the protesters chanted.

"The only language we speak today is the language of jihad," said one protester.

While Newsweek magazine has withdrawn the story it published saying American soldiers intentionally committed acts denigrating the Quran, a man who said he was a former detainee at Guantanamo said he saw the Muslim holy book defiled.

Martin Mumbanga told CNN: "The soldier picked up the Quran and threw it on the floor."

Holding their Qurans high, they called for death and mayhem, praising the destruction of New York's twin towers on September 11, 2001, and saying the White House is next.

Before they broke up, the protesters joined in meditation, and then they all prayed.

Demonstrations have taken place around the world over Newsweek's report. There is still anger in parts of the Muslim world where some people are skeptical about the magazine's retraction.

The White House has blamed the report, at least in part, for violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region that left at least 15 people dead.

The White House on Tuesday said it expected Newsweek to help "repair the damage" to the U.S. image in the Muslim world caused by its report. The magazine has apologized for its story.

"Newsweek can clearly explain what happened, why they got it wrong, particularly to people in the region," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it had gathered "credible" reports about U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay disrespecting the Quran and raised the issue with the Pentagon several times.

Group spokesman Simon Schorno said the allegations were made by detainees to Red Cross representatives who visited the detention facility throughout 2002 and 2003. (Full story)


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