|Bush, Rice blame Iran
for cartoon anger
Washington/Jakarta, Feb. 9: President George W. Bush condemned the deadly rioting sparked by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and his secretary of State accused Iran and Syria of trying “to inflame sentiments” across the Muslim world.
President Bush urged foreign leaders to halt the spreading violence and to protect diplomats in besieged embassies.
The President spoke out about
the controversy on Wednesday for the first time, signalling deepening White
House concern about violent protests stemming from the publication of caricatures
in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten and reprinted in European media and elsewhere
in the past week. “We reject violence as a way to express discontent with
what may be printed in a free press,” the President said.
Abdullah, too, called for protests to be peaceful, but he also spoke against ridicule of Islam’s holiest figure. “With all respect to press freedoms, obviously anything that vilifies the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, or attacks Muslim sensibilities, I believe, needs to be condemned,” the King said.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the police killed four people as protesters marched on a US military base. There was increasing talk, both in the US and abroad, that some foreign governments as well as extremist groups were fanning the violent protests. At the State department, secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “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.”
An Iranian vice-president on Thursday denied claims by the US government that Tehran was inflaming Muslim anger over the cartoons. “That is 100 per cent a lie,” said Isfandiar Rahim Mashaee, one of several Iranian vice-presidents. “It is without attribution.” Mr Mashaee was commenting on remarks by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice claiming that Iran and Syria had whipped up Muslim anger over the cartoons. Mr Mashaee was in Indonesia in his capacity as president of Iran’s tourism and cultural board, and he spoke to reporters after meeting with vice-president Yusuf Kalla.
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