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Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, told tens of thousands of his countrymen Saturday that the United States and Europe should pay a heavy price for publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, saying the West had become a tool of "Zionism."
Denmark, where the cartoons first were published four months ago, said it was temporarily pulling its envoys from Tehran, Syria and Indonesia, where buildings housing Copenhagen's diplomatic missions have come under attacks from angry Muslim demonstrators.
And a Saudi Arabian newspaper reprinted the Friday sermon of the country's top cleric who said it was too late for apologies and those responsible for the drawings should be put on trial and punished.
In Saturday's speech the hard-line leader linked his public rage with Israel and the cartoons.
"I ask everybody in the world not to let a group of Zionists who failed in Palestine (referring to the recent Hamas victory in Palestinian elections) to insult the prophet.
"Now in the West insulting the prophet is allowed, but questioning the Holocaust is considered a crime," he said. "We ask, why do you insult the prophet? The response is that it is a matter of freedom, while in fact they (who insult the founder of Islam) are hostages of the Zionists. And the people of the US and Europe should pay a heavy price for becoming hostages to Zionists," he declared.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, responded on behalf of the 25-nation trading bloc, saying Ahmadinejad's remarks were shocking and should not be silently accepted.
"These remarks stand in complete contradiction to the efforts of numerous political and religious leaders who after the events of the past few days are campaigning for a dialogue between cultures that is marked by mutual respect," Plassnik added.
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