COPENHAGEN - Denmark said on Tuesday a new cartoon crisis with the Muslim
world could erupt after Danish television stations broadcast footage last week
deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.
An Iranian police commander appeals
for an end to a demonstration in front of the Danish Embassy in Tehran,
October 10, 2006. [Reuters]
In Tehran, dozens of Iranian protesters pelted the Danish embassy with stones
and petrol bombs, witnesses said. Riot police guarded the embassy.
Muslims were angered when Danish television stations aired footage on Friday
of members of the youth wing of the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party (DPP)
drawing cartoons in August mocking the Prophet. Iran condemned the broadcast.
In September last year the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons
that Muslim clerics denounced as blasphemous, sparking protests early this year
in which more than 50 people were killed in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
"(The latest cartoon issue is) smoldering around in the Muslim world. We hope
it will die out but we don't know if it will pass," Danish Foreign Minister Per
Stig Moller told the Danish national broadcaster DR.
Most Muslims regard any depiction of the Prophet as offensive.
"Don't forget that the (last) cartoon crisis broke out four months after the
drawings were first published, so I can't guarantee anything," said Moller.
This time Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen acted quickly and
condemned the behavior of the DPP members. He was criticized earlier this year
for refusing to apologize for the previous cartoons of the Prophet.
The DPP is not a member of the ruling coalition but supports the government
Moller said he had talked to Iranian and Syrian leaders and that he hoped the
government's efforts to calm anger in the Muslim world would bear fruit.
"The question is what the religious leaders will say at Friday prayers," he
Witnesses said the protesters outside the Danish embassy in Tehran chanted
"Down with Zionists" and "God praise the party of God."
The protesters set fire to a tire next to the embassy compound wall but
firefighters put it out.
Denmark's ambassador to Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Monday
about the television footage.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned those involved in the
footage as "low life."
More than 230 legislators in Iran's 290-seat parliament urged Ahmadinejad on
Tuesday to cut Iran's trade ties with Denmark, the semi-official Mehr News
"The past attempts of the Danish government regarding this insult (to the
Prophet) have been repeated, this time by the visual media," said Mehr.
Danish industry praised the government on Tuesday for taking swift action to
calm Muslim anger and said a Muslim consumer boycott of Danish goods, like the
one that occurred earlier this year, had been largely avoided.
"This unfortunate matter has been handled competently by the government and
so far we've only had two companies in Saudi Arabia report that they were
affected," said Peter Thagesen, a senior adviser at the Confederation of Danish
Total Danish yearly exports to Muslim countries are about 10 billion crowns
($1.81 billion), or roughly 2 percent of all exports.