The U.S. State Department has condemned the decision of newspapers in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe for publishing cartoon drawings depicting the prophet Muhammad, something that is offensive to Muslims.
State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus told reporters, 'Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable. We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices.'
Meanwhile, thousands of angry Muslims protested the cartoons this afternoon after meeting as mosques for Friday prayers. Protests were held in Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. At many of the protests, the Danish flag and the flags of other countries that published the political cartoons were burned.
The caricatures were originally published in Denmark in September. They have since been reprinted in newspapers in Norway, Germany, France and even Jordan. One particularly controversial sketch depicted the prophet Muhammad wearing a turban that was shaped like a bomb.
Islamic law forbids depiction's of Muhammad and other major religious figures even positive ones to prevent idolatry. Even positive depictions are not considered acceptable.
Some of the protests bordered on violent. In a mosque in Ramallah inside the Palestinian territories, protesters shouted, 'Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up.'
In Nablus, Hassan Sharaf, an imam at a local mosque told worshippers at his sermon 'If they want a war of religions, we are ready.'
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw was also critical of newspapers that published the drawings. For now, the anger on the street throughout the Muslim world remains high, something that extremists, jihadists and radicals will be certain to exploit.