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Embassies torched in cartoon fury

Danish, Norwegian embassies in Syria attacked by Muslims



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DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- Muslim demonstrators in Damascus torched the Norwegian Embassy and the building housing Denmark's embassy because newspapers in those countries published what the protesters consider blasphemous depictions of Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

Thousands of angry Muslims protested in other cities, including Islamabad, Pakistan; Baghdad, Iraq; Khartoum, Sudan; Jakarta, Indonesia; and the Palestinian territories. (Read about one Danish ambassador's meeting with protesters)

In Damascus, protesters set a bonfire outside Denmark's embassy, using chairs and furniture from its offices, and protesters clashed with police and shattered windows with stones.

The building also houses the embassies of Sweden and Chile.

Sweden's ambassador to Syria, Catharina Kipp, said no staff members were inside the building because the staff is on holiday.

The Norwegian ambassador to Syria, Svein Sevj, said his embassy staff was safe.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Saturday his "government condemns the publication" of the drawings, but he urged his citizens to remain calm.

"The government can understand reactions and protests among the people against the publication of these caricatures. However, as religious people, we should accept the apologies of the Danish government," he said.

On Friday, Pakistan's government unanimously passed a resolution condemning the cartoons. (Full story)

A dozen caricatures of the prophet first appeared in September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten . Muslims consider some of the images particularly demeaning, including one of Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

The drawings accompanied an article about the illustrator of a Danish book on the life of Mohammed. According to the article, the illustrator demanded to remain anonymous, because the book's cover depicted the prophet.

Jyllands-Posten has apologized, and the Danish government has expressed regret for the furor but refused to become involved, citing freedom of expression.

Since the publication of the story and the drawings, other newspapers have run the story and drawings, characterizing their publication as a matter of free speech.

Die Welt in Berlin, Germany, and France Soir in Paris, France, reprinted the cartoons, as did two weekly Jordanian newspapers, Shihan and Al-Mehwar.

Arrest warrants were issued Saturday for the editors of the Jordanian papers, according to Jordan's Petra News Agency. Shihan's editor, Jihad Momeni, a former member of the Jordanian Senate, was fired after publishing the cartoons.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said the publication of such images is a "crime that that cannot be justified under freedom of expression," Petra reported.

Islamic law bans any depiction of the prophet, and Muslims consider likenesses of Mohammed blasphemous.

In a strongly worded statement, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Friday that the U.S. respects freedom of expression, but the publication of cartoons that incite religious or ethnic hatred is unacceptable.

The Vatican also weighed in Saturday, saying freedom "cannot imply the right to offend" religious faiths, but emphasized also that "violent actions of protest are deplorable."

The Vatican said a government should not be held responsible for actions of a newspaper. However, authorities "could and must, eventually, intervene according to the principals of the national legislation," the Vatican added.

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

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