Islamic procession in Kashmir turns into protest against prophet cartoons

An Islamic procession Thursday in the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir turned into a protest against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and 25 people were arrested as police beat back angry demonstrators, an officer said.

Separately, the state's highest Islamic leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, appealed to clerics and prayer leaders across the region to hold "forceful" but peaceful protests against the cartoons at mosques during Friday prayers, calling the drawings part of a long-running conspiracy against Islam.

Senior Superintendent of Police Muneer Khan said officers were trying to enforce a federal law that bans gatherings in Jammu-Kashmir when about 200 people tried to mark the Muharram holiday with a procession through the central part of Srinagar, the state's summer capital.

Police hit the Shiite Muslim marchers with batons after they tried to break past barricades, as the protesters hurled stones at the officers and shouted "Down with Denmark" and "Down with Israel."

Muslims around the world have been angered by a Danish newspaper's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The images, including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb, have been reprinted in mostly Western media, reports the AP.

I.L.