Shame on the enemy of Islam - protesters
Khartoum, Sudan - Thousands of Sudanese chanted slogans against Denmark on Wednesday in a government-backed rally protesting the publishing in Danish newspapers of a cartoon satirising Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
"Down, down, Denmark," chanted the growing crowd at the Shuhada Square in downtown Khartoum, where President Omar al-Bashir and other top officials were to address the gathering from the Republican Palace.
The square was closed for traffic as hundreds of buses and trucks brought in protesters, who included women and students, from far-flung areas around the capital to downtown Khartoum. Nearby roads were also blocked and traffic slowed elsewhere in the city.
Since coming to power in an Islamist and military coup in 1989, al-Bashir has imposed the Muslim Sharia law on the country's north, which is predominantly Arab.
Sudan was one of the nations where large protests were held against Denmark in 2006 when 12 cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad and Islam were first published. In riots that followed around the Muslim world, dozens of people were killed and several Danish embassies were attacked, while Danish goods - including dairy products - were boycotted.
The Khartoum protesters on Wednesday carried banners reading: "We love you our dear Prophet," "Shame on the enemy of Islam," and "Boycott Danish commodities."
"There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger," they shouted. "We will protect out Prophet, we will not be intimidated by America!"
Khartoum state governor, Abdul Halim al-Mutaafi, told the local Al Riyadiah radio station that the gathering would call for cutting relations with Denmark and pledged the Sudanese would boycott all Danish goods.
"We don't want them to come to our land nor will we like to go to their land," al-Mutaafi said of the Danes.
The protesters "who came out in Khartoum today are here to denounce those thugs and mean-spirited people who have no religion of faith and who insulted the Prophet," al-Mutaafi said.
The protest organisers, a group known as The Popular Front for the Defense of Faith and Religion which backs the ruling National Congress party of al-Bashir, said they expected a million people to attend.
The rally came a day after Sudan enforced a ban called by al-Bashir on imports of Danish goods in retaliation for the reprint of the cartoon in 17 Danish newspapers showing Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Al-Bashir has also urged that Danish officials be snubbed and its organisations from Sudan be expelled.
On Tuesday, police prevented media from taking photos of the Danish embassy in Khartoum, which was stripped of its flag or any other national symbol,
Danish diplomats in Khartoum said they were not notified of a trade boycott and that Sudanese authorities have not contacted Copenhagen about an eventual expulsion of Danish organisations.
Several aid groups from Denmark operate in Sudan, including the Danish Refugee Council and the Danish Red Cross, which runs large projects to alleviate human suffering in the western Darfur region.
1) Shame on the enemy of Islam - protesters