UK police urged to act over cartoon protest
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UK police urged to act over cartoon protest

The cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper showed the Prophet Mohammad with a turban resembling a bomb.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 19:29 IST

British politicians and mainstream Muslims called on Sunday for police to act against militant protesters who urged violence against Westerners over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

The country's main Muslim group said placards at a London rally with slogans such as "Massacre those who insult Islam" were disgraceful and not typical of Muslim opinion. Police should look to prosecute those responsible, it said.

Uproar over the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper and were then reprinted in other European countries, has swept across the Muslim world. One showed the Prophet Mohammad with a turban resembling a bomb.

Lebanese demonstrators set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut on Sunday and Syrians set the Danish and Norwegian embassies ablaze on Saturday in Damascus.

David Davis, home affairs spokesman for Britain's main opposition Conservative party, said slogans at Friday's rally outside the Danish embassy in London amounted to incitements to serious criminal offences.

"Clearly some of these placards are incitement to violence and, indeed, incitement to murder -- an extremely serious offence which the police must deal with and deal with quickly," Davis told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

Council condemns placards

Hundreds of people took part in Friday's protest. Their placards also included slogans such as "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come" and "Butcher those who mock Islam". Some protesters burned a Danish flag.

"The placards that were on display were quite disgraceful and in our opinion seemed to constitute a clear incitement to violence, even murder," said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain umbrella group.

"We hope that the police are examining the footage of that particular demonstration and gathering evidence with a view to prosecuting those extremist elements who took part," he said.

The council and other Muslim leaders say the rally was hijacked by officially disbanded radical group al Muhajiroun.

Responding to the Conservatives, cabinet minister Peter Hain said politicians should not second-guess the police.

"The police monitored the situation, they're investigating it," said Northern Ireland Minister Hain.

"Those offences should be judged by the police on operational matters, not cabinet ministers, let alone shadow cabinet ministers," he told Sky News television.

London's Metropolitan Police said it was investigating a number of complaints related to the protest.

"We have stated that arrests if necessary will be made at the most appropriate time," a police spokeswoman said.

Protesters rallied again outside the Danish embassy on Saturday using more moderate slogans, although several newspapers carried a picture of one man they said was wearing the type of vest used by suicide bombers.

"Specialist officers were deployed on both days' demonstrations to record any potential evidence should it be needed at any time in the future," the police spokeswoman said.

First Published: Feb 05, 2006 19:29 IST