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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 15:23 GMT
Italy cartoon row minister quits
Roberto Calderoli
Roberto Calderoli belongs to the anti-immigrant Northern League
The Italian reform minister who angered Muslims by wearing a T-shirt decorated with Western media cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad has resigned.

Roberto Calderoli stepped down a day after rioting outside the Italian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi led to at least 10 deaths.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had also urged him to go.

The cartoons, first published by a Danish newspaper in September, have angered Muslims across the world.

During a sixth day of protests in Pakistan, four protesters were wounded after police reportedly opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators throwing stones and trying to burn down shops in the eastern town of Chaniot.

The cartoons, published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, have since been reprinted by several other European publications. They include an image portraying Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

Islamic tradition strictly prohibits any depiction of Allah or the Prophet.

Libyan minister suspended

Mr Calderoli, of the anti-immigration Northern League party, said he had decided to hand in his resignation "out of a sense of responsibility and certainly not because it was demanded by the government and the opposition".

30 Sept 2005: Danish paper publishes cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors complain to Danish PM
10 Jan 2006: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
31 Jan: Danish paper apologises
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4-5 Feb: Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut attacked
6-12 Feb: Twelve killed in Afghanistan as security forces try to suppress protests
13-18 Feb: Five killed as protests break out across Pakistan
17 Feb: Ten killed in Libya as protesters target the Italian consulate in Benghazi

"I don't intend to allow further shameful manipulation of the kind which has been recently been brought to bear against me, and against the Northern League, from members of the government," the 49-year-old said.

At least 10 people were killed and several wounded as Libyan police tried to stop an angry protest of hundreds of demonstrators outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi on Friday.

According to police, the crowd splintered off from a larger, peaceful demonstration in the centre of the city and headed towards the consulate.

The Italian foreign ministry said protesters broke into the grounds and set the first floor of the building on fire.

The Libyan government blamed what it called a small irresponsible group that it said did not reflect the Libyan spirit.

Car burning near Italian consulate
The consulate in Libya was the first Italian interest to be targeted

Libyan Interior Minister Nasr al-Mabrouk was suspended on Saturday and referred for investigation into police actions during the rioting.

"We condemn the excessive use of force and the inappropriate way that went beyond the limits of carrying out the duties of the police," said a statement from the parliamentary secretariat.

Hear Silvio Berlusconi distance his government from Calderoli


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