2 dead as Muslims clash with cops

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Muslims protesting a newspaper article they say was critical of Islam clashed with police in southern India, leaving at least two people dead and dozens injured, police said today.

One person was killed by police gunfire and another succumbed to injuries caused by rocks thrown by the protesters during yesterday’s gathering in Shimoga, a town in Karnataka state, said Vinod Kumar, a police officer.

Nearly 3,000 Muslims took to the streets after a daily published an article it said was written by controversial Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen challenging the Islamic tradition of wearing veils as an infringement on women’s freedom.

Police fired at the protesters and used bamboo sticks to disperse them, he said. Authorities imposed a curfew in the town after protesters burned some shops and damaged dozens of vehicles, Kumar told The Associated Press.

Similar protests were reported in Hassan, another town in Karnataka state.

Kannada Prabha said that contents of the article were taken from a book written by Nasreen, according to the CNN-IBN television. Meanwhile, in Bangalore, Nasreen said her work had been “misused” by the newspaper. “The appearance of the article is atrocious,” Nasreen said in a statement. “In any of my writings I have never mentioned that Prophet Mohammed was against the burqa.”