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Thousands gather for anti-Danish protest over reprinting of Prophet Muhammad cartoon

Thousands gather for anti-Danish protest over reprinting of Prophet Muhammad cartoon

Thousands of Sudanese chanted slogans against Denmark on Wednesday in a government-backed rally protesting the publishing in Danish newspapers of a cartoon satirizing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
"Down, down, Denmark," chanted the growing crowd at the Shuhada Sq. in downtown Khartoum, where President Omar al-Bashir and other top officials were to address the gathering from the Republican Palace.
The square was closed for traffic as hundreds of buses and trucks brought in protesters, who included women and students, from far-flung areas around the capital to downtown Khartoum. Nearby roads were also blocked and traffic slowed elsewhere in the city.
Since coming to power in an Islamist and military coup in 1989, al-Bashir has imposed the Muslim Sharia law on the country's north, which is predominantly Arab.
Sudan was one of the nations where large protests were held against Denmark in 2006 when 12 cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad and Islam were first published. In riots that followed around the Muslim world, dozens of people were killed and several Danish embassies were attacked, while Danish goods _ including dairy products _ were boycotted.
The Khartoum protesters Wednesday carried banners reading: "We love you our dear Prophet," "Shame on the enemy of Islam," and "Boycott Danish commodities."
"There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger," they shouted. "We will protect our Prophet, we will not be intimidated by America!"
Khartoum state governor, Abdul Halim al-Mutaafi, told the local Al Riyadiah radio station that the gathering would call for cutting relations with Denmark and pledged the Sudanese would boycott all Danish goods.
"We don't want them to come to our land nor will we like to go to their land," al-Mutaafi said of the Danes.
The protesters "who came out in Khartoum today are here to denounce those thugs and mean-spirited people who have no religion of faith and who insulted the Prophet," al-Mutaafi said.
The protest organizers, a group known as The Popular Front for the Defense of Faith and Religion which backs the ruling National Congress party of al-Bashir, said they expected a million people to attend.
The rally came a day after Sudan enforced a ban called by al-Bashir on imports of Danish goods in retaliation for the reprint of the cartoon in 17 Danish newspapers showing Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Al-Bashir has also urged that Danish officials be snubbed and its organizations from Sudan be expelled.
On Tuesday, police prevented media from taking photos of the Danish embassy in Khartoum, which was stripped of its flag or any other national symbol,
Danish diplomats in Khartoum said they were not notified of a trade boycott and that Sudanese authorities have not contacted Copenhagen about an eventual expulsion of Danish organizations.
Danish exports, mainly dairy products, to Sudan are minimal, unlike to other Muslim markets such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In 2006, they amounted to 116 million kroner (euro15.5 million; US$23 million), a drop of 26 percent compared to the previous year.
But several aid groups from Denmark operate in Sudan _ which is one of the largest recipients of Danish aid _ including the Danish Refugee Council and the Danish Red Cross, which runs large projects to alleviate human suffering in the western Darfur region.
The African country received 130.2 million kroner (euro17.5 million; US$26 million) in Danish aid in 2006 and a 500 million kroner (euro67 million; US$100 million) humanitarian and reconstruction package is planned through 2009.
Danish newspapers said they reprinted one of the cartoons earlier this month in support of free speech after three men were arrested in an alleged plot to kill the cartoonist. Since then, the Danish government has closely monitored the situation in Muslim countries in view of renewed protests, which for now have remained low-scale.
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Associated Press Writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-29 21:36 GMT+08:00