Some Islamic countries want to ban mocking religion. Fewer demonstrations are taking place today. Journalists are fired for publishing the cartoons; others are arrested.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – As the number of protests over the Muhammad cartoons drops and become less turbulent, some Islamic countries want the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to ask the United Nations to ban mocking religion. By contrast, upholding freedom of opinion seems to be going by the wayside in the Muslim world as publishers, editors and journalists land in jail for printing the controversial cartoons.
The latest large-scale demonstrations are in Pakistan. In Peshawar for example, thousands of students have taken to the streets and attacked buildings including the offices of Norwegian IT Company Telenor. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested but no one was killed.
On the diplomatic front, Denmark has asked the current OIC chair Malaysia to help douse the fires raging in the Islamic world.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said his Danish counterpart Per Stig Moeller called him on Friday. “He telephoned me to ask for co-operation from Malaysia to explain the issue,” Syed Hamid was quoted as saying.
Indonesia voiced its great concern over Denmark’s decision to temporarily close its diplomatic service in its embassy in Jakarta. “We are sorry to learn about the decision since our police force offered full security protection to the Danish diplomatic mission,” explained Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda in Jakarta.
“We don’t want to face hostility with hostility toward other religions,” said Yemen’s Prime Minister Abdulkader Ba Jamal at the end of a peaceful demonstration. Although he said his country condemned the cartoons, he also said that his government valued the dialogue between cultures.
However, his government detained three journalists and has issued the arrest warrant for a fourth journalist after the three papers in which they worked were shut down for publishing the cartoons.
The Yemeni Journalists' Association called for the journalists’ release and demanded that the closure decrees be revoked “because these measures were not ordered by a court”.
In Algeria two newspapers were closed and their editors arrested for publishing the cartoons. A staff member for Iqraa, one of the affected papers, said that “the cartoons published in our weekly were [deliberately] fogged. They were accompanied by an article denouncing them.”
In Java (Indonesia), the Christian paper Gloria reported that its editor-in-chief David da Silva was fired and questioned by police for printing the cartoons.
In the meantime, Iran is calling for international measures to prevent the repeat of such acts. Pirouz Hosseini, director general of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's Political and International Affairs Desk, said his government was calling for an emergency session of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Jeddah tomorrow. A similar request has been made by Yemen which wants the UN to get involve as well.
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