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Muslims in RP demand Denmark's apology

Feb 10, 2006
Updated 11:09am (Mla time)

Associated Press INQ7.net

(2ND UPDATE) Hundreds of angry Muslims on Friday burned a mock Danish flag outside a Manila mosque, demanding an apology from Denmark's prime minister over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed first published in a Danish newspaper.

"Muslims love Prophet Mohammed. Peace be upon him," read a streamer carried by the protesters after noon prayers at Manila's Quiapo district mosque. "Punish the Jyllands Posten Denmark publisher," it said.

The protesters ripped apart a Danish flag made of cardboard, then set it on fire. They also demanded that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo condemn the caricatures.

"An immediate apology is highly in order. The Prophet Mohammed is no terrorist but a prophet who espouses the wisdom of Allah, the almighty God," said Mujiv Hataman, a Muslim member of the House of Representatives.

"The Danish government which bears the cross, the sign of Christendom, on its national flag, must apologize instead of being resistant or evasive to the issue, House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapuddin said in a statement.

Almarin Tillah, chairman of the Bangsamoro National Congress, an umbrella of Muslim civil society groups, brought along copies of the caricatures, including one showing the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban with a protruding stick of dynamite.

"We are in rage as you can see now," he said. "How can the prophet of Islam -- and Islam means peace -- be a terrorist?"

Tillah said the Danish prime minister must apologize, and justified the angry reactions of Muslims worldwide.

He also criticized Arroyo for not protesting over the cartoons, calling the government "totally insensitive" to the sentiments of millions of Filipino Muslims.

It was the second protest over the cartoons in a week, after hundreds of religious students on Tuesday burned a Danish flag in southern Cotabato city, 880 kilometers (550 miles) southeast of Manila.

Police said earlier they have tightened security at Denmark's honorary consulate and the Norwegian embassy in Manila, which handles Denmark's interests in the country.

Jyllands Posten, a Danish newspaper, was the first to publish the cartoons in September. The caricatures were later reprinted by various newspapers in Europe and other parts of the world.

"As a devoted Muslim myself, I find the efforts of Jyllands-Posten newspaper unacceptable for it to commission not one but 12 cartoonists to depict Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. intentionally with malicious mind either because of the newspaper's ignorance or intentional effort to malign Islam and the Muslim ummah, Salapuddin said.

Salapuddin called on media practitioners all over the world to exercise great caution in handling sensitive issues like religion.

"While they are the fourth estate and possess freedom of the press, freedom is never without any boundary or limit. What may be acceptable or permissible to other faiths or nations may be unacceptable or un-permissible to others," he said.

The lawmaker at the same time appealed to Muslims to demonstrate tolerance and moderation in expressing their opposition to the cartoons.

"I call for reason to prevail, and for calm, sobriety, and prayer for peace and universal understanding, he said.

Muslims comprise about five percent of the mainly Roman Catholic Filipinos, but militants have waged a three-decades-long rebellion for self-rule in the south of the country. With Maila Ager, INQ7.net

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