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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 03:33 GMT
World figures deplore cartoon row
Pakistani journalists burn an effigy in  protest against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad
In Pakistan journalists burned an effigy of Denmark's PM
Key figures from the UN, the EU and a prominent pan-Islamic body have jointly called for calm in the wake of outrage over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his counterparts called the drawings offensive, but expressed alarm at the violent worldwide reaction to them.

The prime minister of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, said they had led to a "global crisis".

Several people have been killed in angry protests, mostly in Afghanistan.

In France, a court threw out on technical grounds an application for an injunction against a satirical publication that planned to print the 12 caricatures in its Wednesday edition.

Freedom of the press entails responsibility and discretion
UN, EU, OIC statement

The editor of Charlie-Hebdo welcomed the ruling.

"Criticising religion is legitimate in a state of law and must remain so," Philippe Val said.

But the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, one of the groups that applied for the injunction, said "one cannot insult a religion".

"To defend the dignity of one's religion does not mean one is radical," Fouad Alaoui said.

'Dialogue not violence'

The statement by Mr Annan, the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and the head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmelettin Ihsanoglu, called for restraint from all sides.

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
30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU's Gaza office demanding apology
31 Jan: Danish paper apologises
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4 Feb: Syrians attack Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus
5 Feb: Protesters sack Danish embassy in Beirut
6-7 Feb: At least eight killed in Afghanistan as security forces try to suppress violent protests

"We believe freedom of the press entails responsibility and discretion, and should respect the beliefs and tenets of all religions. But we also believe the recent violent acts surpass the limits of peaceful protest," it said.

The statement came as Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for a resolution "through dialogue, not violence".

Extremists seeking "a clash of cultures" were exploiting the dispute, he said.

Some Muslim countries have enacted sanctions against Denmark, while its embassies have been attacked and its exports boycotted.

Mr Rasmussen thanked international leaders who had offered support, including US President George W Bush.

Iranian retaliation

The satirical cartoons - which have been reproduced in a number of European newspapers - have been denounced throughout the Islamic world. They include an image portraying Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits any depiction of Allah and the Prophet.

European papers have defended their decisions to publish on free speech grounds.

An Iranian newspaper cited the same justification as it launched a competition, asking artists to submit cartoons about the Holocaust.

Protests against the cartoons continue worldwide:

  • In Afghanistan on Tuesday at least three demonstrators die as they try to storm a Norwegian-led Nato base

  • Nigerian politicians in the mainly-Muslim Kano region burn Danish flags

  • Tens of thousands of Muslims protest peacefully in Niamey, the capital of Niger, waving placards reading "Down with Denmark and her allies"

  • About 5,000 people take to the streets in Peshawar in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province

  • Several hundred Muslims protest in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir

See the protests against the cartoons

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