Deadly protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad spread in Africa, killing 16 people in Nigeria on Saturday a day after claiming 11 lives in Libya.
Many of those who died in northern Nigeria were Christians, killed after a Muslim protest over the cartoons turned violent and rioters torched churches, shops and vehicles, police and local officials said.
It was the bloodiest protest so far over satirical cartoons of the Prophet, first published in a Danish newspaper, that Muslims regard as blasphemous.
"They went on the rampage, burning shops and churches of the Christians. The protesters killed the others. Some were even killed in the churches," said Joseph Hayab, north-west secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The row over the cartoons also forced two ministers out of their jobs in Europe and the Middle East after 11 people died in the Libyan town of Benghazi in clashes on Friday between police and protesters who had tried to storm the Italian consulate.
Italian Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli, who had the cartoons made into a T-shirt which he wore on television, resigned after he was widely blamed for the violence in Libya.
In Tripoli, the General Peoples Congress fired Interior Minister Nasser al-Mabrouk Abdallah and police chiefs in Benghazi, saying "disproportionate force" had been used.
The Congress hailed the dead as "martyrs" and declared Sunday a day of mourning across Libya.
As thousands of Muslims rallied in central London to keep up the cycle of cartoon protests around the world, there was fresh bloodshed in Pakistan when four people were wounded in gunfire at a demonstration in the central Punjab region.
Protests in Pakistan this week have resulted in at least five deaths, and on Friday it became the latest country where Denmark has decided to temporarily close its embassy. Denmark urged any Danes in Pakistan to leave as soon as possible.
In Nigeria, whose 140 million people are divided about equally between Christians and Muslims, 15 people died in the northeastern state of Borno and one died in the north-central state of Katsina, police spokesman Haz Iwendi said.
He said 11 churches had been torched in Borno and the army had been called in to state capital Maiduguri to impose order.
"The Muslim group came out to protest and the security forces tried to ensure it was peaceful, but there were some hoodlums in the crowd and somehow the security forces shot one or two of them," said Hayab of CAN.
Thousands have been killed in Christian-Muslim clashes over the last five years in Nigeria. Twelve northern states, including Borno, introduced Islamic sharia law in 2000 which has contributed to the animosity between the two religions.
Britains Muslim Action Committee (MAC) which organised the London event said they expected 40,000 to rally peacefully in Trafalgar Square. A police spokeswoman said 10,000 were present. One placard read: "Free Speech = Cheap Insults."
Around 1,000 people protested in Copenhagen on Saturday against the cartoons.
On Friday, a Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers offered rewards amounting to more than $1 million for anyone who killed the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures.
And then there's this:
Hundreds of Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad tried to storm the U.S. Embassy[of Indonesia] on Sunday, smashing the windows of a guard post but failing to push through the gates. Several people were injured.
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 o 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 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, and particularly 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.
"We are fighting America fiercely this time," he said. "And we also are fighting Denmark."
I've refrained from publishing those cartoons here but I am rethinking that stance. To put it bluntly, incidents like these are the reason why I've lost all respect for the Islamic religion and why proposals like this one from the National Council of Churches Nobody Goes To Anymore are such insults to my intelligence.
A dialogue of civilizations will bring together not only religious leaders, but political, academic, media and business sectors of society. While acknowledging the deep differences among us, such a dialogue will encourage participants to a common table at which we can educate each other about those parts of our faith and life that are most holy and significant. It will also provide the opportunity for people of different faiths to come together on values that unite us.
We support the Global Dialogue of Civilizations initiated at the Parliament of the Worlds Religions in 2004 and the recent call by the Philippine government to institutionalize interfaith dialogue at the United Nations. Such initiatives, we believe, will help inculcate new rules of civic behavior respectful of other cultures and religions in the growing pluralism and, indeed, interaction of cultures and religions in most metropolitan areas around the world.
Do you claim to be religiously tolerant? Then manifest your tolerance in places where most people worship the same way you do or keep your mouth shut. Because if you can justify killing adherents of other religions because of alleged insults to your "prophet," then all the "new rules of civic behavior respectful of other cultures and religions" in the world will mean absolutely nothing.
So, Chris. Do you think, then, that religiously offensive art ought to go unchallenged? Aren't you at all troubled by the "artistic" insults of Jesus or Mary or other biblical figures that "artists" have produced over the years? Of course I am. But I try as best I can(not always successfully) to view artistic insults directed against Jesus or Mary the way that Jesus or Mary would view them. With sadness rather than with anger.
I'll speak out against "artists" who produce such insults but that's all I'll do. But I don't think that such "art" ought to be censored or suppressed; such a cure would be worse than the disease. Because the moment that "offense" becomes a standard as to what may or may not be publicly displayed, you can be certain that someone will claim to be "offended" by your rosary or the Bible on top of my reference desk.