Demo Numbers Grow As Controversy Abates

Friday thousands of Muslims rallied in Malaysia, while smaller demonstrations were held in Indonesia and for the first the Philippines was hit by the worldwide demonstrations against the ofending cartoons.
Protesters shouted anti-American and other slogans and burned, stomped and spat on Danish flags – but there weren’t any immediate reports of violence.

Angry outburst
In Malaysia thousands of Muslims gathered Friday in the country’s biggest demonstration against the caricatures.
“Long live Islam. Destroy Denmark. Destroy Israel. Destroy George Bush. Destroy America,” shouted angry protesters who marched in a steady rain to the Denmark Embassy from a nearby mosque. Police put their number at about 2,000.
It was the second week in a row that demonstrators targeted the embassy after Friday prayers. But last week’s protest attracted less than 100 people, indicating that anger is growing in Malaysia, which is viewed as a model of a tolerant, modern Islamic state.
“You are playing with fire Denmark. We are ready to fight,” said Hanifah Maidin of the youth wing of the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which organized the protest.
The protest came a day after the government ordered a nationwide ban on possessing or distributing the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying they could trigger public tensions.


Huge chasm
Opening a conference at a nearby venue, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi talked of a “huge chasm that has emerged between the West and Islam,” particularly because of Muslim frustrations at Western policies toward Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinians.
He said many Westerners view a Muslim as “a congenital terrorist.”
“They think Osama bin Laden speaks for the religion and its followers,” Abdullah said in his speech, that didn’t mention the prophet cartoons.


Ready to die
In the Philippine capital, Manila, hundreds of Muslims burned a mock Danish flag and demanded the Danish newspaper that first published the caricatures be punished. They also wanted an apology from Denmark’s prime minister.
Small demonstrations were also held in Indonesia, where protesters burned tires in one town.
About 175 students at an Islamic school in Surabaya, in East Java province, signed a pact saying they are “ready to die” for Prophet Muhammad, and would confront any Danes they met, said their headmaster, Yusuf Muhajir.
“The will ask Danish citizens wherever they meet to apologize,” Muhajir said. “They will be slapped if they refuse to apologize. The slap is a merely intended as a lesson, instead of hurting them.”

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