(VIDEO) Thousands protested in Israel and all over the world Saturday against the Prophet Muhammad cartoons published in a Danish newspaper.
Protest in Damascus (Footage: Reuters)
In Syria outraged demonstrators stormed the Danish Embassy in Damascus and set fire to the building in protest of offensive caricatures of Islam’s prophet. Thick, black smoke was still rising from the three-story building as firefighters struggled tried to put out the flames.
The protest started out peacefully but as anger escalated, people broke through police barriers and used the concrete barricades protecting the embassy as ladders to climb inside the building and set it on fire. “With our blood and souls we defend you, O Prophet of God,” They chanted.
Some removed the Danish flag and replaced it with a green flag printed with the words “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The building also houses the embassies of Chile and Sweden.
Later it was reported that the Norwegian embassy was also set ablaze.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has instructed his trade minister to look into the possibility of annulling contracts signed with European countries that published the cartoons, according to Iran’s official news agency.
“These cartoons present the impertinence and audacity of the West’s newspapers,” Ahmadinejad said.
In Israel, more than 1,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Nazareth in protest of the cartoons. During the march, organized by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, those addressing the crown on hand said “We will not let anyone hurt the values sacred to Islam.”
‘This is a global confrontation’
Islamic Movement Chairman Sheikh Raed Salah said the anti-Islam crusade was launched by U.S. President George W. Bush, adding that he has turned to Israeli media outlets that published the cartoons demanding their apology.
In a demonstration of the Islamic Movement’s southern wing Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said, “A law should be passed in Europe punishing those who insult Islam, similar to the anti-Semitism laws.
Danish embassy on fire (Photo: Reuters)
Top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told Italian newspaper Il Giornale, “We should have killed all those who defiled the Prophet Muhammad, but instead we are protesting in peace.”
When asked whether the response to the cartoons may have been exaggerated, al-Zahar said “Hamas is not threatening anyone, but it seems that Denmark, France, Norway and other European countries are in complete agreement with whoever drew the cartoon. They did nothing to stop those responsible or reconcile with Islam.
“Someone (in Europe) threatened to burn a Quran and you blame us of exaggeration? Europe must be very careful. If he who promised to burn the Quran will be in a position to defile Muhammad’s name, you will be making a historic mistake; a mistake the entire West will regret dearly,” he added.
“This is a global confrontation, and Europe is responsible for it. We are not protesting as Palestinians, but as Muslims who have been insulted by the defiling of the Prophet Muhammad.
Al-Zahar told the Italian newspaper that Hamas is not interested in a violent struggle with the Christians, saying “Hamas does not want violence, especially not against our Christian and Catholic brothers; they are not responsible for this slandering. They have always respected us in Gaza, and therefore the Hamas warriors are prepared to protect their schools and churches from any attacks. I have given my word that no harm will come to any Christian,” he said.
Nir Magal, Associated Press contributed to the report