Rice warns cartoons outrage risks escalating

Picture: Alaa Badarneh/ EPA" />CONDOLEEZZA Rice, the United States secretary of state, warned yesterday that the outrage sparked by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad could "spin out of control", as three Palestinians were shot and an Israeli was injured in violence provoked by graffiti on a mosque wall.

Clashes on the West Bank erupted after "Mohammed is a Pig" was spray-painted on the mosque in Nabi Alyas on the West Bank, apparently by Jewish settlers.

An Israeli military spokesman, Adam Avidan, said that Palestinians had complained to Israeli military administrators about it and officers rushed to the village to condemn the action and to urge calm while soldiers removed the graffiti.

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When news of the incident spread to nearby Azzun village, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli cars driving to a nearby settlement, slightly injuring one woman. Three Palestinians were injured during subsequent clashes with troops.

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, said the incident was "an attempt by settlers to enflame the area".

Ms Rice urged governments yesterday, especially Iran and Syria, to "act responsibly".

"We could face a sense of outrage that spins out of control, and particularly if people continue to incite it, it can spin out of control," she said.

Ms Rice said she deplored a plan in Iran to retaliate for the cartoons by launching a contest to caricature the Holocaust in which six million Jews were killed.

On Saturday, protesters with signs that read "Irresponsible Journalism" gathered outside the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer to condemn the newspaper's decision to reprint the cartoons. But many of the 200 protesters acknowledged that the paper had the right to publish.