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Police use tear gas on protest against cartoons

By Riaz Khan, Peshawar
POLICE fired tear gas and wielded batons yesterday to stop 7,000 students protesting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed from marching on the governor’s residence in north-western Pakistan.

The students had hurled stones at a Christian school, breaking windows. They also threw stones at shops, chanting "Down with America" and "Down with Denmark".

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told journalists in Islamabad yesterday that newspapers that have printed the caricatures were "being totally oblivious to the consequences for the world, for world peace and harmony".

"The most moderate Muslim will go to the street and talk against it because this hurts the sentiments of every Muslim. Whether an extremist or a moderate or an ultramoderate, we will condemn it," he said.

The cartoons have been reprinted in numerous publications in what publishers say is a show of solidarity for freedom of expression, setting off protests from Canada to Indonesia.

In the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans yesterday to protest the caricatures. The demonstration was organised by a school affiliated with Islamic militant group Hamas.

One of Iran’s largest newspapers opened a contest yesterday seeking caricatures of the Holocaust. Hamshahri said it wanted to test whether the West extends its principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to the cartoons of Islam’s prophet.

"We don’t intend retaliation over the drawings of the prophet. We just want to show that freedom is restricted in the West," said Davood Kazemi, and cartoon editor at the paper.

Iran on Sunday rejected an accusation by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it has fanned violent protests over the caricatures and demanded an apology, saying that could reduce growing tension.

Elsewhere, nearly a dozen people were killed in protests in Afghanistan.