- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Hundreds of Muslims protesting caricatures of the prophet Muhammad tried to storm the U.S. Embassy yesterday, smashing the windows of a guard post but failing to push through the gates. Several people were injured.

Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces sealed off the capital of Islamabad to block a mass demonstration, where they fired tear gas and gunshots to chase off protesters. In Turkey, tens of thousands gathered in Istanbul chanting slogans against Denmark, Israel and the United States.

Protests over the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and have been republished in other publications in Europe and elsewhere, have swept across the Muslim world.

Christians also have become targets. Pakistani Muslims protesting in the southern city of Sukkur ransacked and burned a church yesterday after hearing accusations that a Christian man had burned pages of the Koran, Islam’s holy book.

A day earlier, Muslims protesting in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri attacked Christians and burned 15 churches in a three-hour rampage that killed at least 15 persons. Some 30 other people have died during protests over the cartoons in the past three weeks.

In Jakarta, about 400 people marched to the heavily fortified U.S. mission in the center of the city, behind a banner reading “We are ready to attack the enemies of the prophet.”

Protesters throwing stones and brandishing wooden staves tried to break through the gates. They set fire to U.S. flags and a poster of President Bush, and they smashed the windows of a guard outpost before dispersing after a few minutes.

The U.S. Embassy called the attacks deplorable, describing them as acts of “thuggery.”

A protest organizer said the West, in particular the United States, is attacking Islam.

“They want to destroy Islam through the issue of terrorism … and all those things are engineered by the United States,” said Maksuni, who only uses one name.

Reuters news agency said the protesters were angered over the depiction of Muhammad in a frieze that adorns the facade of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Pakistan, where protests last week left five persons dead, police put up roadblocks around Islamabad to keep people from entering the capital for a planned mass protest called by a coalition of six hard-line Islamic parties, the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal — or United Action Forum.

Authorities also detained several lawmakers and Islamic leaders during raids in three cities and announced they would arrest anyone joining a gathering of more than five persons.

Opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman, a senior figure in the Islamic coalition, was eventually given permission to lead a small rally through a square in the city center. The protesters chanted “God is great” and “Any friend of America is a traitor.”

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