While upholding the right of Muslims to voice outrage against a film deemed offensive to Islam, clerics and political leaders have been calling for the protests to steer clear of violence.
As protests continued Friday (September14th) against an amateur film that insulted the Prophet Muhammad, prominent Muslim leaders and scholars are calling on the faithful to practice restraint and not be goaded by provocations.
"Muslims have the right to respond to anything that offends Islam," The Jakarta Post quoted a Muslim scholar in Indonesia, Komaruddin Hidayat, as saying. "However, I'd like to call on all Muslims in the country to avoid using violence in expressing their objections."
Such violence, he added, would only make Islam more vulnerable to attack.
In the internet era, content deemed insulting to Islam is bound to be produced and circulated, Komaruddin said, urging Muslims to "control themselves and avoid being provoked".
"This is not the first film to insult Islam. We have seen this before when the Danish cartoonist depicted the Prophet. The distribution of blasphemous material is inevitable due to the growth in communication technology," the Post quoted him as saying
Meanwhile, the head of the country's largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, called on devotees to follow the peaceful example set by the Prophet himself.
"Prophet Muhammad chose to forgive the people of Thaif even after they threw stones at him. He prayed for those who misunderstood him. I ask all Muslims to stay calm," Masdar F. Masudi said, according to the Post.
Calls for restraint in India
In India, where demonstrations flared up Friday in Chennai and Kashmir, The Economic Times posted an editorial urging Muslims not to fall into the trap of violence, saying it would only hurt Islam.
"We condemn the killing of the US Ambassador in Libya and attacks on the US consulate in Yemen later," the paper wrote. "It is entirely legitimate to protest against puerile attempts to denigrate a religion but not to use violence to register the protest."
Imams in Kashmir, where Muslims constitute more than 90% of the population, delivered sermons at Friday prayers in which they called for demonstrations to remain peaceful, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
Protesters dispersed after the sermons, the report added, saying the situation in the Kashmir Valley has been largely without violent incident, except for an isolated case of stone-throwing.
Mohammed Yousef, a prominent Kashmir political leader, said there has been "enough bloodshed around the world.
"We must make an effort to promote peace and harmony. Such actions do not help in that direction," PTI quoted him as saying.
Muslim Brotherhood: US not responsible for video
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood said Friday the United States was not responsible for the film which set off the protests. The Islamist movement, which won the country's elections in June, also called for demonstrations to remain peaceful.
"Despite our resentment of the continued appearance of productions like the anti-Muslim film ... we do not hold the American government or its citizens responsible for acts of the few," the Brotherhood's deputy leader, Khairat El-Shater, said in a letter to The New York Times.
He said although Muslims have the right to protest internet content which they found offensive, violent actions such as storming the US Embassy in Cairo were "illegal".
"In a new democratic Egypt, Egyptians earned the right to voice their anger over such issues, and they expect their government to uphold and protect their right to do so. However, they should do so peacefully and within the bounds of the law," El-Shater wrote.
He also expressed his condolences to the American people over the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in an assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya during similar protests.