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    Conflict over Mohammed cartoons benefits extremists - official

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - There are radical forces who stand to benefit from the conflict surrounding the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, Russia's special envoy to the Middle East said Thursday.

    Alexander Kalugin said, "I concede that there are a range of radical forces interested in damaging relations between the West and the Muslim world. It must be clearly stated that this is not only the justified reaction of Muslims to insulting actions."

    The cartoons, originally published in a Danish newspaper and subsequently reprinted in several other countries, have been called Islamophobic and blasphemous, and have provoked protests throughout the Muslim world, some of which have turned violent.

    Kalugin said that several different causes for the conflict need to be taken into account.

    "We must understand the reasons, punish the guilty parties, or apologize. There are numerous steps which could be made to calm the situation."

    Images (cartoon crisis: Muslims of the world say "No!")

    Images (Iran: the cartoon-inspired violence)

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