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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 16:53 GMT
Pakistan crackdown over cartoons
Protests in the city of Peshawar
Thousands took part in street protests across Pakistan
A radical Islamic leader has been detained in Pakistan to prevent him from leading protests against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was held in Lahore as he prepared for a rally after Friday's prayers, his spokesman said.

More than 100 other protesters have also been detained across Pakistan, amid reports of clashes with police.

At least five people died in Pakistan as rallies against the cartoons in the Western media turned violent this week.

The government will not allow anyone to disrupt peace and order in society
Sheikh Rashid
Information Minister

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

The cartoons, first published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, have angered Muslims worldwide.

In other developments:

  • Denmark temporarily closes its embassy in Pakistan because of the security situation. Copenhagen also advises against all travel to Pakistan and urges Danes there to leave as soon as possible.

  • Pakistan recalls its ambassador in Denmark for consultations.

  • A minister in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Haji Yaqub, announces a $11m reward for anyone who beheads the cartoonist who drew the images of Muhammad.

  • Peshawar cleric Maulana Yousaf Qureshi offers 7.5m rupees ($125,000) and a car to anyone who kills the cartoonist. The reward is later reportedly raised to $1m.

  • Former US President Bill Clinton calls the publication of the cartoons "a mistake".

  • In Hong Kong, more than 2,000 Muslims stage a peaceful anti-cartoon march.

Violence

The detained Mr Saeed is the founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a banned militant group fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir. He now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa - a radical group that is under government surveillance.

Plain clothes and uniformed police officers beat a protester in Karachi
Police used tear gas and batons to disperse a rally in Karachi

He had been scheduled to address a sermon in the eastern city of Lahore before leading a protest in the city of Faisalabad.

The spokesman for Mr Saeed said a large contingent of police arrived at his home early on Friday morning and placed him under house arrest.

In Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse some 2,000 protesters who blocked a major street. Some 60 people were arrested.

Dozens of protesters were detained by police in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad.

Tens of thousands of police are out on patrol in major cities - including the capital Islamabad - and most schools and colleges have been closed to prevent students from joining the protests.

Anti-US tone

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has condemned the cartoons, which include one portraying the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

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
6-12 Feb: Twelve killed in Afghanistan as security forces try to suppress protests
13-17 Feb: Violent protests break out across Pakistan

Recent rallies against the cartoons in Pakistan snowballed into major acts of civil disorder that took on an anti-US tone, the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says.

Analysts say the protests have become a political challenge to Gen Musharraf and his pro-American policies - and they could continue, our correspondent says.

On Sunday, powerful Islamist parties have called the first in a series of mass demonstrations timed to peak with the visit of US President George W Bush.


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See protesters on the streets of Islamabad



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