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Storm grows over Mohammad cartoons

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(CNN) -- The international storm over cartoon drawings of the Prophet Mohammad published in European media gathered pace across the Islamic world Thursday with angry demonstrations and the shutting down of the EU office in Gaza City.

In Paris, the daily newspaper France Soir fired its managing editor after it republished the caricatures Wednesday, and in Pakistan protesters marched chanting "Death to Denmark" and "Death to France."

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying the cartoons -- one depicting the founder of Islam wearing a turban resembling a bomb --showed press freedom should have its limits.

Muslims consider it sacrilegious to produce a likeness of the Prophet Mohammad. CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam. (Watch the furor caused by cartoons -- 2:48)

"The cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad are an attack on our spiritual values. There should be a limit to press freedom," the state Anatolian news agency quoted Erdogan as telling French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy during talks in Ankara.

Meanwhile, Denmark summoned overseas envoys in Copenhagen for talks, Reuters reported.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the issue had gone beyond a feud between Copenhagen and the Muslim world and now centered on Western free speech versus taboos in Islam, which is the second religion in many European countries.

In continuing protests, Palestinian gunmen shut the European Union office Thursday in Gaza City, writing on the door that the office would remain closed until the Europeans apologize to Muslims, Palestinian security sources told CNN.

Wearing masks, the men -- from Islamic Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah -- fired bullets into the air and one of them read demands.

On Monday, a similar demonstration occurred in Gaza City to protest of a series of cartoons in a Danish newspaper considered offensive by many Muslims. (Full story)

Palestinian officials said the gunmen were threatening to kidnap European workers if the European Union did not apologize.

The drawings first ran in a Danish paper in September. (Full story)

The same 12 cartoons were published Wednesday by two European newspapers -- Die Welt in Berlin, and France Soir in Paris -- who characterized the publications as a matter of free speech.

France Soir published the cartoons under the headline, "Yes, one has the right to caricature God." (Full story)

Both newspapers said they were publishing the cartoons in solidarity with the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which both newspapers said had the right to publish the cartoons in a free society with a free press.

'Editor fired'

Following the publication in Paris, according to the authoritative daily newspaper Le Monde, the publisher of France Soir, Raymond Lakah, fired the editorial director of the newspaper, Jacques Lefranc. (Full story)

According to Le Monde, which described Lakah as "Franco-Egyptian," the publisher issued a statement saying he had decided to fire Lefranc as president and director of the newspaper in "a strong sign of respect to the intimate convictions and beliefs of each individual."

On Wednesday, Iraqis urged their government to cut diplomatic ties with Denmark and Norway because of the publication of the cartoons.

Iraqi Islamic leaders called on worshippers to stage demonstrations from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra following main weekly prayer services Friday to condemn the caricatures.

The Arabic-language news channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a report with the cartoons heavily distorted.

The culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, Fleming Rose, apologized for the publication of the cartoons, saying the newspaper did not mean to offend Muslims and said the cartoons had to be understood in context.

Norway suspended operations at its office in the West Bank town of Ram, just outside of Jerusalem, after receiving threats connected to a Norwegian newspaper's publication of the cartoons.

Outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Thursday condemned the caricatures, saying they "provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world."

"We hope that the concerned governments are attentive to the sensitivity of this issue," Qureia told The Associated Press.

He asked gunmen not to attack foreigners. "But we warn that emotions may flare in this very sensitive issues."

Afghanistan said publication of the caricatures would give ammunition to those seeking to disrupt international relations.

"Any insult to the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is an insult to more than 1 billion Muslims and an act like this must never be allowed to be repeated," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

Students march

In Pakistan, more than 300 Islamic students protested, chanting "Death to Denmark" and "Death to France."

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned Austrian Ambassador Stigel Bauer, as representing the European Union, to protest the publication, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Bauer expressed "sorrow" over the incident and promised to convey Iran's protest to his government and other EU countries, the agency reported. Austria currently holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation European Union.

A Jordanian newspaper took the bold step of publishing three of the caricatures Thursday, saying it was reprinting them to show readers "the extent of the Danish offense."

Next to the drawings, the Arabic weekly Shihan said in a headline: "This is how the Danish newspaper portrayed Prophet Muhammad, may God's blessing and peace be upon him."

The director of media rights group Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, called for calm. "We need to figure out how to reconcile freedom of expression and respect of faith," he said.

Boycott of Danish goods

In an interview with al Arabiya television, Rasmussen said he could not be held responsible for what is published in the press but that all parties should avoid escalating the row.

"We are all also responsible toward religious feelings. We have a sizable Muslim community in Denmark ... in my party there are Muslims," he said.

Syria and Saudi Arabia have recalled their envoys from Denmark and anti-Danish protests have erupted.

The Danish Foreign Ministry said it had been exposed to a flood of email from angry Muslims attempting to shut down its server. In the past week, the ministry's IT system has blocked almost one million mails, mainly the Middle East, it said.

The clash has also had commercial repercussions. Danish companies have reported sales falling in the Middle East amid calls for boycotts.

Rasmussen refused last October to meet envoys of 11 Muslim states who wanted him to punish Jyllands-Posten.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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