Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cartoon Protests Hit London; Threat to Danish Embassy and Demo outside BBC HQ

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cartoon Protests Hit London; Threat to Danish Embassy and Demo outside BBC HQ

Article excerpt

Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT

THE outcry over cartoons mocking the Islamic faith threatened to bring protests to London today.

Outraged Muslims were organising a demonstration outside the Danish embassy in Sloane Street amid calls for a "day of anger" against the images.

Earlier, a peaceful protest was held outside BBC headquarters after the corporation broadcast the controversial pictures in news bulletins.

Around 30 people shouted and waved banners but there was none of the violence unleashed in other countries.

An extraordinary furore has erupted over the dozen cartoons which have been printed in Denmark, Germany, France and Spain as a gesture of free speech that outraged Muslims. So far, no British publication has printed the images.

The Muslim Association of Britain today said the use of the images on the BBC was an incitement to racial hatred unprecedented in the corporation's history.

Its president, Ahmed El Sheikh said: "They are offensive and we do not like to see them published here. We enjoy a homogenous society in Britain and we don't want people trying to divide us.

"We want people to debate the issue, but we don't want to see people trying to hurt us by publishing them."

The controversy comes amid mounting tensions over freedom of speech in Britain. Muslim MPs claim that watered-down laws against religious and racial hatred, introduced this week, are too weak to guarantee the Muslim community "freedom from fear".

The pictures, first published by a newspaper in Denmark, were also shown on ITV and Channel 4. They have also been printed in newspapers in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

All publications said they were expressing free speech.

A demonstration outside the Danish Embassy in London, due to take place tomorrow, is being organised by the Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Spokesman Dr Imran Waheed warned that the Muslim community would not remain silent over "cheap insults in the name of freedom of speech". …

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