February 12, 2010 / 4:36 PM / 10 years ago

Protest against Mohammad caricature in Oslo

OSLO (Reuters) - Around 2,000 people protested in Oslo on Friday over the printing of a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad as a pig by a Norwegian newspaper.

Demonstrators gather at University Square in Oslo February 12, 2010, in protest over the printing of a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad as a pig by a Norwegian newspaper. REUTERS/Stian Lysberg Solum/Scanpix

Tabloid Dagbladet printed a photo of the cartoon on February 3 to illustrate a frontpage story describing how the Facebook page of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) linked to pages featuring caricatures of the Prophet. The links were posted by participants to the Facebook group and removed by PST.

Holding placards with slogans such as “Show respect to all religions” and “Stop insults against Muslims,” demonstrators passed peacefully through central Oslo.

“I am here because what Dagbladet has done is very offensive to us,” said Kashif Aurangzev, a 34-year-old taxi driver.

“This is a big attack on Muslims, it goes against our religion,” said Kamran Naveeb, a 25-year-old student.

Police said around 2,000 people attended the heavily guarded demonstration, which was boycotted by Norway’s main Muslim organization for fears it could turn violent.

Dagbladet printed a picture of one of the cartoons, representing the Prophet as a pig writing the Koran, drawn by an Israeli West Bank settler in the 1990s.

“It was an illustration to our news story,” said Lars Helle, Dagbladet’s acting editor-in-chief. “Our critics can of course criticize us for publishing the cartoon. It’s their right according to free speech.

“They have the right to protest, but it was not a provocation, it was not meant as a provocation, it was meant as an illustration to a news story,” he told Reuters.

Norway was one of the countries at the center of the Mohammad cartoon controversy in 2005-2006 that led to street protests in the Muslim world and torching of Nordic embassies.

In January 2006, the Norwegian Christian newspaper Magazinet printed 12 caricatures of Mohammad that were first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. That led to the torching of the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, Syria.

Editing by Ralph Boulton

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