Image: Afghanistan protest
AP
Afghan protesters carry flags of the Netherlands, left, and Denmark as a donkey carries an effigy of Pope Benedict during a demonstration against the reproduction of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers and an upcoming Dutch film criticizing the Quran. The protest was in Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital of Logar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday.
updated 3/8/2008 8:30:12 PM ET 2008-03-09T01:30:12

Thousands of Afghans demonstrated Saturday in western Afghanistan, shouting angry slogans against Denmark and the Netherlands for alleged insults against Islam.

The protesters walked through the city of Herat on their way to its main sports stadium. They denounced Denmark, where cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were recently reprinted in several newspapers.

They also criticized the Netherlands, where a lawmaker plans to release a short film critical about Islam, police spokesman Noor Kahn Nekzad said.

He estimated that more than 10,000 people took part in the protest. An Associated Press reporter put the crowd at about 5,000.

Demonstrators shouted "Death to Denmark for insulting our prophet" and "Death to the Netherlands for insulting our religion." They also shouted "Death to America."

Last month, Denmark's leading newspapers reprinted a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad after Danish police said they had uncovered a plot to kill the artist, whose drawing was one of 12 cartoons that sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world in 2006.

The reprinting triggered another wave of protests in Islamic countries in recent weeks.

The protesters were also angered by an upcoming short film by right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders that reportedly portrays the Quran as a "fascist book."

Afghanistan is a Muslim nation where criticism of the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran is a serious crime that carries the death sentence. Most Muslims consider any physical representation of Islam's prophet to be blasphemous.

Last week more than 200 Afghan lawmakers gathered at the parliament, shouting "Death to the enemies of Islam" and urging the Danish and Dutch governments to prevent blasphemy against Islam.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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