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Syria recalls ambassador from Denmark over cartoons

February 1, 2006

Syria recalls ambassador from Denmark over cartoons

By Richard Waddington

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria has recalled its ambassador from Denmark over cartoons that have caused uproar among Muslims who deem them offensive to Islam's Prophet Mohammad, the state news agency said on Wednesday. 

The announcement came hours after a telephoned bomb threat against the Danish embassy in Damascus forced staff to evacuate the building while security personnel cordoned off streets and searched the complex, witnesses said. 

No bomb was found and staff were allowed to return to the embassy after an hour, the witnesses said. The embassy had no immediate comment on the incident. 

A diplomatic storm has blown up over cartoons that were published in a Danish newspaper in September and republished in Norway last month and in the French paper France Soir on Wednesday. 

Earlier this week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the cartoons as an offence to Muslims and Arabs and demanded the Danish government punish the offending paper, Jyllands-Posten. About 200 demonstrators gathered in front of the embassy on Tuesday to protest against the cartoons, witnesses said. 

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said his government cannot apologise on behalf of independent media that have only exercised their right to free speech, but Jyllands-Posten has apologised for offending Muslims. 

Syria recalled the ambassador while it examined the Danish government's response, SANA said. 

France Soir said it was reprinting the cartoons in the name of freedom of expression and to fight religious intolerance. 

One of the caricatures depicts the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb. Islamic tradition prohibits realistic depictions of prophets, and considers caricatures of them blasphemous. 

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