Danish and Norwegian embassies set on fire

Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus, Syria have been set alight by crowds numbering in the thousands. Reports indicate both embassies have been destroyed by fire. The building hosting the Danish embassy also contained the embassies of Chile and Sweden.

The Danish embassy was initially torched, at a time when it was reportedly empty. Officials and staff had been evacuated. Attempts to disperse the protest outside the embassy using tear gas were carried out by Syrian police and it is reported that a number of protesters were taken to hospital.

The attacks on the embassies may have been provoked by text messages which reportedly circulated among Syrians claiming that Danes would burn copies of the Qur'an in a Copenhagen square. Some of those who gathered outside the embassies in Damascus were reported to have been chanting, "With our blood and souls we defend you, O Prophet of God. There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God."

Earlier in the week, text messaging circulated in Egypt that said; "Denmark wants to burn the sacred Qur'an Saturday in Copenhagen in response to the Muslim boycott," and "Send (this message on) and you will be rewarded," the text said.

Despite claims in the text messages that the holy book of Islam would be burned on Saturday, there were no reports to indicate that it occurred.