The United Nations and European Union have reached agreement to issue a joint statement condemning cartoon “insults to Islam” that were first published in a Danish newspaper and have been widely reprinted recently, resulting in a rash of violence throughout the Muslim world.

According to a report in WAM, the United Arab Emirates news agency, the agreement is the work of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

The agreement, according to Ihsanoglu, will mean a formal rebuke by the U.N. and EU of the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten for publishing the offensive cartoons.

The statement, he added, stresses that divine religions and religious symbols must be respected, and that freedom of speech must not be taken so far as to desecrate religions.

“The statement also calls for renouncing all forms of violence,” he said, according to WAM.

The controversy began just over a week ago, though the cartoons were first published by the Danish newspaper in September. More recently, other papers and news agencies picked up and published the cartoons, and the result has been unprecedented rioting throughout the Islamic world.

In Afghanistan, the death toll reached at least nine when four more demonstrators were killed in the southern city of Qalat. Army Gen. Abdul Razaq said four people were killed in the latest unrest.

In the Palestinian Authority, the international observer presence in the southern West Bank city of Hebron evacuated all its 71 staff members to Israel after hundreds of Palestinian youths attacked its offices, throwing stones, breaking windows and damaging cars.

Several youths managed to enter the headquarters, causing some damage. Palestinian security forces guarding the headquarters had to call in reinforcements before they were able to disperse the crowd.

In Iran, Muslim demonstrators gathered in front of the British embassy in downtown Tehran. Demonstrators hurled stones at the embassy building, but a large number of police and anti-riot forces appeared to have the situation under control.

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