[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 15:20 GMT
Islam-West divide 'grows deeper'
Muslim protesters in Kuala Lumpur
Thousands rallied in Malaysia's capital as their PM spoke
Malaysia's prime minister says a huge chasm has opened between the West and Islam, fuelled by Muslim frustrations over Western foreign policy.

Abdullah Badawi, seen as promoting a moderate form of Islam in largely Muslim Malaysia, said many Westerners saw Muslims as congenital terrorists.

As he spoke at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, thousands protested outside at cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Their publication in Europe has led to demonstrations across the Muslim world.

Paper shut

Friday's demonstration was the biggest in Malaysia's capital for years.

"Long live Islam. Destroy Denmark. Destroy Israel. Destroy George Bush. Destroy America," protesters shouted as they marched to the Danish embassy in the rain from a nearby mosque.

Abdullah Badawi speaking at the conference
The West should treat Islam the way it wants Islam to treat the West and vice versa - they should accept one another as equals
Abdullah Badawi

The satirical cartoons include an image portraying Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits any depiction of Allah and the Prophet.

The cartoons were first published by a Danish newspaper in September, but have since been reprinted in several other European publications.

On Thursday, Mr Abdullah shut indefinitely a Borneo-based paper, the Sarawak Tribune, for reprinting the cartoons.

He described their publication as "insensitive and irresponsible". The paper had apologised for what it called an editorial oversight.

The prime minister had also declared possession of the cartoons illegal.

In other developments:

  • In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, security forces fire tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to march on the Danish embassy

  • The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper which first published the cartoons, is sent on leave for an indefinite period, as the editor of a Norwegian magazine that reprinted them apologises

  • A Swedish internet service provider shuts down the website of a right-wing anti-immigrant party which invited readers to send in cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad

  • Around 10,000 Muslims stage a silent protest rally in Bhopal, India, carrying banners reading: "Stop all anti-Islamic activities... Do not invite disaster."

  • Hundreds of international peacekeepers and Afghan soldiers prevent demonstrators entering the Afghan capital, Kabul

  • Around 3,000 Muslims march in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and more than 4,000 in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in demonstrations organised by hardline Islamists

  • Thousands march in an Islamic Jihad demonstration in Gaza City, joined by members of other militant groups

  • Nato defence ministers seek to soothe the dispute in scheduled talks with counterparts from six Arab nations in Sicily.

'Demonisation widespread'

Addressing an international conference intended to promote dialogue between Western and Islamic thinkers, Mr Abdullah said Islam and the West should stop demonising each other, and try to curb extremism and promote moderation.

CARTOON ROW
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
6-7 Feb: At least eight killed in Afghanistan as security forces try to suppress protests
9 Feb: Hundreds of thousands protest in Beirut

He said mere talk and being nice to one another were not enough, and mutual respect should replace hegemony.

"They think Osama bin Laden speaks for the religion and its followers," he said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

"The demonisation of Islam and the vilification of Muslims, there is no denying, is widespread within mainstream Western society."

But Muslims for their part had to avoid "sweeping denunciation of Christians, Jews and the West", he added.

"The West should treat Islam the way it wants Islam to treat the West and vice versa. They should accept one another as equals," he said.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says that if this speech had been made by a firebrand or a radical it might more easily be dismissed as rhetoric, but Mr Abdullah has been avidly calling for Muslims worldwide to embrace education, science, technology and development, while rejecting extremism.

While Western diplomats at the meeting were unwilling to accept a link between Western military intervention and Islamic radicalism, he says, it remains one widely believed across the Muslim world.

Malaysia is currently the head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Malaysia's prime minister speaking about the row



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific