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West divide 'grows deeper'

Muslim protesters in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's prime minister says a huge chasm has opened between the West and Islam, fuelled by Muslim frustrations over Western foreign policy.

Abdullah Badawi, seen as promoting a moderate form of Islam in largely Muslim Malaysia, said many Westerners saw Muslims as congenital terrorists.

As he spoke at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, thousands protested outside at cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Their publication in Europe has led to demonstrations across the Muslim world.

Paper shut

Friday's demonstration was the biggest in Malaysia's capital for years.

"Long live Islam. Destroy Denmark. Destroy Israel. Destroy George Bush. Destroy America," protesters shouted as they marched to the Danish embassy in the rain from a nearby mosque.

The satirical cartoons include an image portraying Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits any depiction of Allah and the Prophet.

The cartoons were first published by a Danish newspaper in September, but have since been reprinted in several other European publications.

On Thursday, Mr Abdullah shut indefinitely a Borneo-based paper, the Sarawak Tribune, for reprinting the cartoons.

He described their publication as "insensitive and irresponsible". The paper had apologised for what it called an editorial oversight.

The prime minister had also declared possession of the cartoons illegal.

In other developments:

  • In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, security forces fire tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to march on the Danish embassy

  • The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper which first published the cartoons, is sent on leave for an indefinite period, as the editor of a Norwegian magazine that reprinted them apologises

  • A Swedish internet service provider shuts down the website of a right-wing anti-immigrant party which invited readers to send in cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad

  • Around 10,000 Muslims stage a silent protest rally in Bhopal, India, carrying banners reading: "Stop all anti-Islamic activities... Do not invite disaster."

  • Hundreds of international peacekeepers and Afghan soldiers prevent demonstrators entering the Afghan capital, Kabul

  • Around 3,000 Muslims march in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and more than 4,000 in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in demonstrations organised by hardline Islamists


  • Thousands march in an Islamic Jihad demonstration in Gaza City, joined by members of other militant groups

  • Nato defence ministers seek to soothe the dispute in scheduled talks with counterparts from six Arab nations in Sicily.

  • Read more at the BBC ONE, BBC TWO, BBC THREE

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