Thursday, February 16, 2006

Calls for Cartoon Protest Arrests in UK.

LONDON -- British police were on Monday examining footage of London protests against Prophet Mohammed cartoons that saw people chanting threatening slogans. Government ministers were among those urging police action after demonstrators waved placards glorifying the July 7 bombings and calling for those who insulted Islam to be killed. British Home Secretary Charles Clarke told parliament that police were conducting a "rigorous investigation" into the February 3 demonstration to see if offenses had been committed. Clarke acknowledged the deep offense that was caused to Muslims by the cartoons, which included an image of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban. However, violence, such as that directed at European embassies in recent days, could not be justified, he said. The government would support any action that police decided to take against protestors, he said. No arrests were made at the February 3 demonstration outside the Danish Embassy in London - over cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper - but police said that they were examining video and photographic evidence. "We are determined that this investigation will be as swift, efficient and thorough as possible, as is reasonable for the crimes committed," Scotland Yard said. Some protestors waved placards with slogans such as "Behead those who insult Islam" and chanted "7/7 is on the way", a reference to the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in the British capital that killed 52 people. Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said "direct incitements to violence" had taken place that "emphatically crossed the line" of what was acceptable, civilized behavior. Several Muslim leaders also condemned the protestors, who they said did not represent the majority of British Muslims. A man who dressed as a suicide bomber for the demonstration apologized for his behavior, which he acknowledged had deeply offended the families of the July 7 victims. Omar Khayam, 22, said that he had dressed that way to make the point that the right to free speech did not include the right to offend. "But by me dressing the way I did, I did just that, exactly the same as the Danish newspaper, if not worse," he said in a statement.

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