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UK police arrest five over London Muhammad cartoons protest

[JURIST] British police arrested five men on Wednesday for their suspected role in protests staged outside the Danish embassy in London on February 3 and 4 against the publication of Muhammad cartoons [JURIST news archive] that first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. The arrests follow weeks of investigation by a special law enforcement team set up by the London Metropolitan Police called Operation Laverda, which collected video, audio, photographs and other evidence of protestors. During the protests, demonstrators displayed placards threatening terrorist attacks like those on September 11th and July 7th, as well as the "massacre" of people who insult Islam.

The protests sparked substantial political response in Britain, including rebuke by the Muslim Council of Britain [official website], which called for the prosecution of the protesters, and a call [JURIST report] for the revival of a "glorifying terrorism" crime by UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile]. Police charged four of the suspects with incitement to murder, and held all five on charges of "using threatening words or written material to stir up racial hatred." On February 7, police arrested a protester [Local London report] who dressed as a suicide bomber at the demonstration. The Times has more.

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