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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 14:45 GMT
Euro MPs condemn cartoon protests
By Alix Kroeger
BBC News, European Parliament in Strasbourg

Protesters stand on EU flag in Ankara
Protesters have targeted European Union premises
Members of the European Parliament have condemned the violent protests in Europe following the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

They expressed solidarity with Denmark, saying an attack on one EU country was an attack on all.

MEPs strongly rejected the idea that a clash of civilisations was at the root of the uproar, but called for dialogue.

Several speakers in the debate also called for press to exercise its freedom with responsibility.

Speaking on behalf of the main centre-left group, Danish MEP Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said Europe had learned the values of peaceful co-existence the hard way.

"We say no to those who claim it is us against them," he said.

But he criticised Islamic extremists who had, he said, used the cartoons to create new myths and inflame violence.

Best values

The EU has been the target of protests, which damaged its offices in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Hans-Gert Poettering, the leader of the main centre-right group in the parliament, said it was not enough to invoke a dialogue of civilisations - the EU had to take more concrete steps.

He condemned the violent protests in Islamic countries, saying they were not spontaneous but had been stirred up by regimes which did not believe in freedom of expression.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said a boycott of Danish goods was by definition a boycott of European goods, and he called for the best of values to win against the worst of prejudices.

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