Cleric Offers Bounty on Cartoonist

Peshawar, Pakistan - A Pakistani cleric on Friday announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad, as thousands joined street rallies across the country and authorities arrested scores of protesters.

Police put another Islamist leader under house detention amid fears that the demonstrations held after Friday prayers would turn violent, after riots this week killed five people, but most protests passed off peacefully.

Denmark announced it had temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan after a week of riots in which Western businesses were targeted. The country also advised against all travel to Pakistan and urged Danes still in the country to leave.

Denmark has already temporarily closed its embassies in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Indonesia after anti-Danish protests and threats against staff.

Meanwhile, Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Denmark for "consultations" about the cartoons, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Fearing more riots, Pakistan deployed thousands of security forces in major cities as crowds took to the streets. About 7,000 staged a protest at Rawalpindi, 5,000 in the southwestern city of Quetta and about 5,000 in the southern city of Karachi.

Police arrested 125 protesters in the eastern city of Multan for violating a ban on rallies in Punjab province, and detained 70 others in Karachi.

In the northwestern city of Peshawar, where riots left two dead and scores injured on Wednesday, prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the Mohabat Khan mosque, where worshippers burned a flag of Denmark and an effigy of the Danish prime minister.

He said the mosque and his religious school would give $25,000 and a car, while a local jewelers' association would give another $1 million. No representative of the association was available to confirm it had made the offer.

"This is a unanimous decision of by all imams (prayer leaders) of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize," Qureshi said.

Qureshi did not name any cartoonist in his announcement. He did not appear aware that 12 different people had drawn the pictures — considered blasphemous by Muslims.

A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, first printed the prophet pictures by 12 cartoonists in September. The newspaper has since apologized to Muslims for the cartoons, one of them showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with an ignited fuse. Other Western newspapers, mostly in Europe, have reprinted the pictures, asserting their news value and the right to freedom of expression.

Police in Punjab province were ordered to restrict the movement of all religious leaders who might address rallies and to round up religious activists "who could be any threat to law and order," a senior police official said in the provincial capital Lahore.

Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, chief of the radical group Jamaat al-Dawat, became the first religious leader detained by authorities since protests began in Pakistan early this month. He was due to make a speech in Faisalabad, about 75 miles away.

Intelligence officials have said scores of members of Jamaat al-Dawat and assorted militant groups joined protests in Lahore on Tuesday and had incited violence in a bid to undermine President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government.

In Peshawar, police fired tear gas to disperse more than 1,000 people and arrested several people, said a witness, Khizar Hayat. Four effigies representing Danish, German, French and Norwegian leaders were hanged from lampposts.

In Islamabad, visiting former U.S. President

Bill Clinton criticized the cartoons but said Muslims wasted an opportunity to build better ties with the West by holding violent protests.

"I can tell you most people in the United States deeply respect Islam ... and most people in Europe do," he said. Clinton was visiting to sign an agreement with Pakistan's government on an

HIV-AIDS project by his charitable foundation.

Clerics at mosques across Pakistan still condemned the cartoons at prayers marking the Muslim sabbath on Friday.

"Give enough power to the Muslim countries and enable them to take revenge," said Qari Saeed Ullah, a prayer leader in Islamabad.