Palestinian schoolchildren protest against Denmark

Hundreds of Palestinian schoolchildren, some as young as 4 years old, stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans on Monday to protest the recent publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. Monday's protest was organized by a school affiliated with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which is poised to lead the next Palestinian government after its sweeping victory in last month's legislative elections.

About 500 children, ranging from kindergarten students to young teenagers, joined Monday's protest. The students methodically trampled over a large Danish flag placed on the ground. Many waved green Hamas flags or wore trademark Hamas headbands.

The crowd also carried a mock coffin with "Denmark" written on it, shouted anti-Danish slogans and called for a boycott of Danish products. "With our soul, we will redeem our prophet," they chanted.

Palestinian police directed traffic as the crowd made its way through the city center, and the protest ended peacefully. Also Monday, about 100 teenage activists from the ruling Fatah Party held an anti-Denmark demonstration outside the Palestinian parliament in Gaza City. The protesters burned a Danish flag and some fired bullets into the air.

The demonstrations were the latest in a wave of protests throughout the Muslim world against the caricatures, which were first published in a Danish newspaper and reprinted in other European publications. Any depiction of Muhammad is considered sacrilegious, but one cartoon showing the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban has been particularly incendiary.

Some demonstrators have attacked Western embassies, issued death calls for those involved with the drawings, and demanded a boycott of Danish goods. In recent weeks, Palestinians have held mass protests, threatened to kidnap Europeans in Gaza and chased foreign observers out of Hebron.

Separately, Norway announced Monday that it was reopening its representation office in the Palestinian territories after threats provoked by the cartoons subsided. The West Bank office, located in the Jerusalem suburb of A-Ram, was closed to the public on Feb. 2, reports the AP.


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