KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — More than 200 Malaysian Muslim protesters called on Sweden on Friday to take action against several newspapers that reprinted a caricature depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.
The protesters burned a Swedish flag outside the Swedish embassy, chanting "Long live Islam" and "Down with Sweden" and carrying posters that read "Take some lessons from 9/11!!!" and "We fight for our prophet."
They also burned a picture of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who made the drawing of Muhammad's head on a dog's body in 2007 that was reprinted in papers recently.
"We demand that the Swedish government take strong action against the newspapers and against the artist," said Sabki Yusof, one of the protest leaders from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. "It's unacceptable what they did to our prophet."
Swedish ambassador Helena Sangeland called for more dialogue with Muslims for better mutual understanding but said no action would be taken against the papers. She said she was "very disappointed" that the Swedish flag was burned.
"The Swedish government will not comment nor take any action against
media. Freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution. It is
not negotiable," she told The Associated Press. "I don't think
Malaysia-Sweden bilateral relations will be affected in any way."
Vilks has said he made the caricature to show that artistic freedom
allows mockery of all religions. Several newspapers reprinted the
caricature earlier this month when an alleged plot to murder the
cartoonist was disclosed.
In 2006, a dozen Danish newspaper cartoons of the prophet sparked
furious protests in Muslim countries. Islamic law generally opposes any
depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to