Iran and Syria 'incited violence'

BBC | February 9 2006

The US secretary of state has accused Iran and Syria of fuelling anti-Western sentiment, in a row over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.
Condoleezza Rice said both countries had used the opportunity to incite violence and exploit Muslim anger.

The accusation came as the UK embassy in Iran came under attack. Western embassies in Syria and Lebanon were set alight over the weekend.

Protests continue elsewhere, with four killed in an Afghan demonstration.

The deaths - at a protest by about 400 people in the town of Qalat - bring to 12 the number of people killed in Afghan protests over the cartoons in recent days.

Afghanistan's top council of Muslim clerics has called for an end to several days of demonstrations.

The 12 cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper in September, show the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a variety of humorous or satirical situations.

They include images of the Prophet carrying a lit bomb on his head and brandishing a sword.

In other developments:

French magazine Charlie Hebdo becomes the latest to print the cartoons

Hackers attack hundreds of Danish websites, posting pro-Islamic messages condemning publication of the images

Several hundred people march on the Italian embassy in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, but are blocked by police

About 300 Palestinian protesters attack an international observers' mission in the West Bank town of Hebron, throwing rocks and bottles and trying to torch one of its buildings

Thousands demonstrate in Pakistan's Dara Adam Khel tribal region, bordering Afghanistan.

'Sentiments inflamed'

Speaking at a joint news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Ms Rice said some countries were behaving responsibly with regard to the row but that others "have also used this opportunity to incite violence."

"I don't have any doubt that ... Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it," she said.

During the day about 200 Iranian demonstrators attacked the UK embassy in Tehran, but were prevented by police from forcing entry to the building.

The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Iran have also been attacked, while those in Beirut and Damascus were set on fire at the weekend.

Meanwhile US President George W Bush urged governments to prevent attacks on diplomatic missions.

"I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas," he said.

French President Jacques Chirac, however, focused on the European media, condemning decisions to republish the cartoons as an "overt provocation".

"Anything that can hurt the convictions of another, particularly religious convictions, must be avoided," he said. "Freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of responsibility.

"I condemn all manifest provocation that might dangerously fan passions."



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