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UK press for action against cartoon protestors

British press voiced indignation over the lack of reaction by the authorities against violent demonstrators.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 20:28 IST

The British press on Monday voiced indignation over the lack of reaction by the police and authorities to demonstrators who called for murder in protest against the publication in European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Popular tabloid The Sun, which sells more than three million copies, called on readers to identify demonstrators whose photos it published under the headline "Name Them".

"Suicide bomb demo sickens Britain," ran another headline, while one picture showed a "vile Islamic extremist dressed as a suicide bomber" who "should have been arrested on the spot."

The pictures showed banners with slogans such as "Behead those who insult Islam", "Mock today die 2moro", and "Europe you will pay, fantastic 4 are on their way!" -- a reference to the suicide bombers who killed 56 people in London last July.

Although no British newspaper has published the caricatures of Mohammed, demonstrators in front of the Danish embassy here on Friday held up angry placards. One declared: "Behead the one who insults the Prophet." Another said: "Free speech go to hell."

The Left-of-centre Independent said Monday, "Not to act leaves the impression that some issues are too hot to be handled by normal law enforcement. This does the peaceful majority of British Muslims no favours."

Another Leftist daily, The Guardian, wrote, "Having lost so much support among Muslim voters, Labour ministers have a strong partisan interest in not taking potentially inflamatory actions that become rallying points against them.

"But no society can allow the threats that were made on Friday's march to pass without further action. Those who threatened to kill should answer for their threats. They should be arrested, cautioned and placed under surveillance. If appropriate, the authorities must not be afraid of bringing charges," the paper said.

"White racists are rightly arrested and charged for their hate campaigns. Muslim fanatics have to face similar severity for their no less repulsive actions," The Guardian wrote.

The conservative Daily Telegraph said that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former police chief Lord Stevens "seemed to be more upset about the depiction of the Prophet in (Danish newspaper) Jyllands-Posten than about the fact that a tiny minority in this country seems bent on the murder of the rest of us."

"And to be fair, the police did eventually arrest two people for breaching the peace -- not Islamic protesters, you understand, but two counter-demonstrators who were apparently provoking trouble by carrying images of Mohammed," said The Telegraph under the headline "Why extremists treat us with contempt."

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 20:28 IST