Riaz Khan, AP, Feb. 17, 2006
PESHAWAR, PakistanA Pakistani cleric announced Friday a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad, as thousands joined street protests and Denmark temporarily closed its embassy and advised its citizens to leave the country.
Police confined the former leader of an Islamic militant group to his home to prevent him from addressing supporters over the cartoons, amid fears he could incite violence, after riots this week killed five people.
Security forces were out in strength, particularly around government offices and Western businesses, as Muslims streamed onto the streets after Friday prayers. More than 200 people were detained, but most gatherings were peaceful.
In neighboring India, police used batons and tear gas to disperse thousands of angry worshippers who rioted in the southern city of Hyderabad. They burned Danish flags, pelted police with stones, and looted shops. Hundreds more protested in Bangladesh.
In the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the Mohabat Khan mosque.
Qureshi said the mosque and his religious school would give $25,000 and a car, while a local jewelers’ association would give another $1 million. No representative of the association was available to confirm it had made the offer.
Unrest over the cartoons has spiraled in Pakistan, even as it has ebbed in the rest of Asia and in the Middle East. Big riots in Lahore and Peshawar this week caused millions of dollars in damage, as hundreds of vehicles were burned and protesters targeted numerous U.S. and other foreign-brand businesses, including KFC, McDonald’s, Citibank, Holiday Inn and Norwegian cell phone company Telenor.