Threats to kidnap foreigners have triggered a pullout of Western media from Gaza. As journalists and camera crews left, the international row over the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed continued.
The appearance of the sketches in a Danish newspaper outraged the Islamic world, and was then compounded by their re-publication in a French paper. Journalists like Sarah de Jong working in Gaza have found themselves on the front line as masked Palestinian gunmen reacted violently to what they see as an insult to Islam. “It’s a bit tense,” said de Jong, “you get the feeling that people are angry. They don’t know what is going on, they don’t understand why the French newspaper now took the cartoon from the Danish newspaper so the people are upset.” EU Commission offices were earlier threatened causing all but skeleton staff to remain. European papers are continuing to carry the cartoons in what has become an argument about Western free speech versus Islamic taboos. But Denmark’s Prime Minister tried to calm things down :“I’m deeply distressed that many Muslims have seen the drawings in the Danish newspaper as a defamation of the Prophet Mohammed. I know that this was not the intention of the newspaper, the newspaper has apologised for that and I do hope that we can find a solution,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Earlier a 21-year-old German teacher was briefly held by gunmen in the West Bank but released after being held for a few hours. A leading Islamic cleric is calling for an international day of protest against what he calls the blasphemous drawings.