Shops and businesses shut down Thursday in the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir after Islamic separatists and religious groups called a strike to protest cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed which appeared in a Danish newspaper. The strike was called to "protest the outrage felt by Muslims over the insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that have appeared," a veteran separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said in a statement.
The Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published the drawings of Mohammed by 12 cartoonists on Sept. 30, angering Muslims because of an Islamic ban on such likenesses. The content of the some of the drawings has also stoked anger. One cartoon, for example, depict Mohammed carrying a ticking bomb on his head. "That depiction is insulting and blasphemous because it relates the Prophet with terrorism, which is a total fallacy," said Masarat Alam, leader of the Jammu-Kashmir Muslim League.
He said the Danish newspaper should be "punished by Denmark's government," but did not elaborate. Strikes are the most common form of protest in predominantly Muslim Kashmir, and separatists explained that Thursday's action was being held more than two months after the cartoons were printed because many in the Himalayan region only heard about the cartoons in the past few days. In Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, shops, businesses and several schools remained closed because of the strike.
Muslim organizations around the world have also demanded apologies, but the has paper refused, citing freedom of speech. A group of 10 ambassadors from predominantly Muslim countries also have protested in writing against the drawings to the Danish government. Kashmir has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency seeking to wrest the region from India, reports the AP. N.U.