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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:06, February 07, 2006
Protestors stone Austrian embassy in Tehran
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About 200 angry Iranians threw stones at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran on Monday in a protest against cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Mohammad which were printed in Austria.

The protestors, mainly young men, pelted stones and fire-bombs at the Austrian mission, smashing some windows, but the embassy building did not catch fire, according to witnesses.

The Austrian Embassy sits in downtown Tehran.

The demonstrators also set blaze national flags of several concerned European countries and chanted anti-West slogans, the witness added.

The incident came a few days ahead of the traditional Shiite ceremony Ashura, which is for Shiite Muslims to express their religious piety by commemorating the martyrdom of Shiite Imam Hussein.

Austria is currently holding the presidency of the European Union and Iran last week summoned the Austrian ambassador to Tehran to express the anger against the European media's publication of the cartoons.

Amid an outrage over the prophet cartoons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered on Saturday the establishment of a committee to study cancelling contracts with European countries where the cartoons have been published.

The Iranian president also slammed the publication of the cartoons as an "insult" to Islam, saying that the cartoons showed Western media's "rudeness."

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday also condemned as "loathsome move" the publication of the cartoons, but called on Muslims to refrain from extremist moves.

"The Western press intend to introduce the Islam of kindness and lenience as a harsh religion and that is the worst and ugliest type of distorting the historic facts, but of course the Muslims would not be deceived in confrontation with such plots," Rafsanjani urged.

Danish daily Jyllands-Poste first published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad last September, including a portrayal of the Islamic religion's founder wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

Over the past few days, the cartoons, which are considered blasphemous by most Muslims, were reprinted in some other European publications including in Austria, which has provoked an outrage in the Muslim world and a boycott of Danish products in most Muslim countries.

On Sunday, Lebanese demonstrators torched the Danish consulate in Beirut and one protestor, engulfed by the fire, died.

Elsewhere in Damascus, Syria, protestors stormed and set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies on Saturday.

Several Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran, have also witnessed massive rallies staged by thousands of angry demonstrators protesting against the cartoons.

Jyllands-Poste's editor issued an apology late Monday for offending Muslims, after long refusing to apologize for publishing the caricatures and insisting on the right to freedom of expression.

Source: Xinhua

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