Embassy protests rage on
TEHRAN, Iran – Hundreds of angry protesters hurled stones and firebombs at the Danish Embassy in the Iranian capital Monday to protest publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Police used tear gas and surrounded the walled villa to hold back the crowd.
It was the second attack on a Western mission in Tehran on Monday. Earlier in the day, 200 student demonstrators threw stones at the Austrian Embassy, breaking windows and starting small fires. The mission was targeted because Austria holds the European Union presidency.
Thousands more people joined violent demonstrations across the world to protest publication of the caricatures of Muhammad, and the Bush administration appealed to Saudi Arabia to use its influence among Arabs to help ease tensions in the Middle East and Europe.
Afghan troops shot and killed four protesters, some as they tried to storm a U.S. military base outside Bagram – the first time a protest over the issue has targeted the United States. A teenage boy was killed when protesters stampeded in Somalia.
The EU issued stern reminders to 18 Arab and other Muslim countries that they are under treaty obligations to protect foreign embassies.
Lebanon apologized to Denmark – where the cartoons were first published – a day after protesters set fire to a building housing the Danish mission in Beirut. The attack “harmed Lebanon’s reputation and its civilized image,” Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said.
In the Iranian capital, police encircled the Danish Embassy but were unable to hold back 400 demonstrators as they tossed stones and Molotov cocktails at the walled brick villa. At least nine protesters were hurt, police said.
About an hour into the protest, police fired tear gas, driving demonstrators into a nearby park. About 20 people returned and tried to enter the embassy compound but were blocked by security forces.
Also Monday, 200 members of Iran’s parliament issued a statement warning that those who published the cartoons should remember the case of Salman Rushdie – the British author against whom the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death warrant for his novel “The Satanic Verses.”
In a meeting with local authors, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned the cartoons and addressed the West: “Insulting the Prophet Muhammad would not promote your position,” the official Iranian news agency quoted him as saying.
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