U.S. official praises Indonesia and Malaysia

A U.S. official on Friday praised Indonesia and Malaysia for their handling of the controversy over caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, and said the two countries proved that Islam and democracy were compatible.

"The protests dissipated fairly quickly and there was a public discussion of it," said Eric John, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

Some 3,000 protesters in Malaysia gathered in steady rain outside the Denmark Embassy on Friday in the biggest demonstration yet in the country over the illustrations. Scattered protests were also held in Indonesia.

The drawings, first published in a Danish newspaper then reprinted in other European publications, sparked outrage across the Islamic world. Protests turned violent in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, police in Indonesia fired warning shots to break up protests, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appealed for calm.

At a briefing with reporters, John said Indonesia and Malaysia, which have Muslim majorities, were voices of moderation and that their democracies proved that Muslims can "flourish" in such a political system.

"The controversy has shown that democracy and Islam are compatible," he said, reports the AP.


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