Angry Muslims burn Danish flag in protest over cartoons in southern Philippines

Hundreds of Muslims burned a Danish flag Tuesday in the southern Philippines to protest caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad originally published in Denmark, and urged a boycott of that country's products.

The protesters, mainly religious students, gathered at the city square in Cotabato, 880 kilometers (550 miles) southeast of Manila, demanding that Denmark's government take action against the newspaper that first published the cartoons.

"We are not happy with the cartoons ... We condemn it," Muslim cleric Abdulmanan Gayak said, and called for a boycott of Danish products.

"This is an act of blasphemy, a sacrilege, as well as a transgression against Islam and therefore cannot be easily forgotten and forgiven," said Sammy Maulana, head of a Muslim civil society group.

"This is a mind setting and mind conditioning as well as mind poisoning to convince the world and make them believe that the Prophet Muhammad is just an ordinary mortal and a terrorist himself," she said.

Muslims are a minority in the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines, but militants have waged a three-decades-long rebellion for self-rule in the south of the country.

The main Muslim separatist group, which is negotiating peace with the government, also condemned the cartoons and their re-print in many parts of the world.

"Personally, we don't like that. It's an insult to our religion," rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said, but added: "As much as possible, we don't involve the group in religious matters,” reports the AP.

I.L.