| Shias during a protest in Beirut. (AFP)
Nairobi, Feb. 10 (Reuters): Kenyan police opened fire at hundreds demonstrating against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad today, wounding at least one person, as protests across the Muslim world showed no sign of abating.
Police in Bangladesh beat back about 10,000 angry protesters marching on the Danish embassy in Dhaka and demonstrators also took to the streets in Afghanistan, Jordan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which has carried out several suicide bombings in Israel, threatened more violence and a leading Saudi Muslim cleric called for no mercy in punishing anyone mocking the Prophet.
“So far we have demanded an apology from the governments. But if they continue their assault on our dear Prophet Mohammad, we will burn the ground underneath their feet,” Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib said.
Kenyan riot police fired live rounds and tear gas to prevent hundreds of stone-throwing protesters from reaching the Danish embassy. One man was shot in the thigh, a witness said.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have demonstrated in West Asia, Asia and Africa over the cartoons first published in Denmark, then other countries in Europe and elsewhere. At least 11 people have been killed in the protests.
One cartoon showed the Prophet Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Muslims consider any portrayal of the prophet blasphemous, let alone one showing him as a terrorist.
“We demand stiff penalties without leniency against those who deride the Prophet Mohammad,” Abdel-Rahman al-Sudeis, a prominent Saudi Arabian cleric in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca, said. “With one voice, millions of Muslims around the world are defending the Prophet of God.”
With tensions running high and copies of the cartoons cropping up in newspapers around the world, authorities moved to clamp down on the media and try to calm believers.
Malaysia slapped a blanket ban on circulating or possessing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, police were questioning an editor after his tabloid, Peta, published a caricature of the prophet.
In a separate development, the Danish newspaper editor who commissioned the cartoons was sent on holiday after suggesting he would print Iranian cartoons on the Holocaust.
In Tehran, where protesters this week pelted the Danish embassy with petrol bombs, a senior cleric said Iran’s arch enemy the US was behind the trouble.
“The anger shown by Muslims is a holy anger,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said. “But I am calling on religious men not to attack foreign embassies ... They want their embassies set on fire so they can say they are innocent..”
The Danish government has expressed regret over the publication of the cartoons, but has refused to apologise saying that is a matter for the newspaper.