- More than a thousand Muslims marched in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Saturday to protest against the publication of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by the independent weekly 'Savana' earlier this month. The protest marches were focused on downtown Maputo and ended up in the company publishing 'Savana' and 'MediaFax', where editorial offices were vandalised.
The march, which started in the Maputo suburb of Alto Mae, ended in the Independent Square, in the city centre, where the Muslim demonstrators prayed for about three hours, while displaying banners of protest against the cartoons. Mozambique has a large Muslim minority, although this is mostly confined to the north of the country.
First demonstrations against 'Savana' started last week, when the followers of Mohammed invaded the premises of the Associated Journalists Cooperative ('Mediacoop'), the owner of 'Savana' and of the daily 'MediaFax' newssheet. The demonstration degenerated into the vandalising of the 'Mediacoop' offices.
The cartoons in question, that caused a wave of demonstrations by Muslims around the world, were first published in a Danish paper, in September 2005. By now, they have been published by media in 56 countries, including predominantly Muslim Jordan, Egypt and Yemen.
Some of the banners carried by the Maputo demonstrators in the Saturday's protest were demanding the sacking of 'Savana' director, Kok Nam, and the daily's editor, Fernando Goncalves. The demonstrators were also wearing T-shirts with sayings such as "Islam is equal to Peace and Tolerance".
Other banners had sayings like "Danish paper, please do not offend us", "Prophet Mohammed, compassion to humankind, we repudiate all those who offend Prophet Mohammed, shoulder by shoulder we will win".
Because of the protest, many of the shops in Maputo, which are mostly owned by people of Asian origin and Muslims, were closed during the weekend.
The 'Savana' management has already formally apologised to Mozambique's Muslim community as it came clear that the latter got offended by the publication of the caricatures.
And 'Savana' explained that this publication was aimed at showing people what was the object of such a hot controversy that was causing deaths around the world. But despite the apology, the Muslims are demanding the sacking of the 'Savana' management, namely Kon Nam and Fernando Goncalves.
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