Afghans protest Danish, Dutch anti-Islam acts

Rallies end peacefully


Shouting angry slogans against Denmark and Netherlands for insulting Islam, thousands of people rallied in Afghanistan on Saturday to condemn the reprinting of a cartoon Islam’s Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers and a film against Qur’an by a Dutch politician.

In the western city of Herat, scene of the largest of the protests, demonstrators smashed the windows of a police vehicle, while a grenade was hurled at police close to government buildings before the demonstrators dispersed.

Afghans also gathered in the eastern province of Kunar, on the border with Pakistan. Protesters burned Danish and Dutch flags and chanted anti-Western slogans.

The protests were the largest in the past fortnight in Afghanistan and, like previous demonstrations, marchers demanded the expulsion of Dutch and Danish troops who operate under NATO's command in the country.

There were no casualties from the explosion in Herat and both protests ended peacefully.

The reprinting of the cartoon and the planned release of the film coincide with recent incursions by Israel into Gaza, where more than 120 Palestinian civilians have been killed.

The developments have angered many in the Muslim world and prompted a series of protests in Afghanistan where Taliban militants are leading an insurgency against the government and foreign troops.

Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders is expected to release his film, thought to be critical of Islam’s holy book, later this month. Wilders has given few details, but in the past he has called the Qur’an a "fascist" book that "incites violence".

The cartoon -- one of 12 that prompted riots in many Muslim countries in 2006 -- was republished by a number of Danish papers last month to show solidarity with the cartoonist after three men were arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill him.

Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet as offensive. Afghanistan is a Muslim nation where criticism of the Prophet or the Quran is a serious crime that carries the death sentence.