BEIRUT -- Protests were held Friday in several predominantly Muslim countries to denounce the recent desecration of Islam's holy book by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands.
In Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, police officers stopped some demonstrators trying to march toward the Swedish Embassy.
About 12,000 Islamists from the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party rallied in Lahore, the capital of the eastern Punjab province, to denounce the desecration of the Koran in the two European countries. In his speech to the demonstrators, party head Saad Rizvi asked the government to lodge a strong protest with Sweden and the Netherlands so that such incidents don't happen again.
Similar rallies were also held in the southern city of Karachi and in the northwest.
Friday's rallies dispersed peacefully. However, Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan in recent years has held violent rallies over the publication of caricatures of Islam's prophet in France and elsewhere.
In the Iranian capital of Tehran, hundreds of people marched after Friday prayers and burned a Swedish flag. In Beirut, about 200 protesters burned the flags of Sweden and the Netherlands outside the blue-domed Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque at the city's central Martyrs Square.
Small protests over the Koran burning also took place in Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this month, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Koran near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them.
Demonstrators in Sweden must apply to police for a permit for a public gathering. Police can deny such permits only on exceptional grounds, such as risks to public safety.
Iraq's powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked in comments released Friday whether freedom of speech means offending other people's beliefs. The cleric added that burning the Koran "will bring divine anger."