Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel-Lankarani said the cartoons, which originally appeared in September in the Danish paper "Jyllands-Posten," were a deliberate attempt to provoke a confrontation with Islam.
He called for a "serious" reaction from Shi'ite clerics and criticized Iranian officials for their "weak" response. He said the government's reaction should have been at least as strong as its position on Iran's nuclear program.
Ayatollah Fazel-Lankarani specifically suggested two signs of protest, the calling of a state of public mourning and the temporary closure of all religious schools in the holy city of Qom.
The Cartoon Controversy
Islamabad residents protesting against the Prophet Muhammad cartoons on February 15 (epa)
An Unfolding Conflict
19 February 2006: A full-page apology by "Jyllands-Posten," dated 5 February, appears in papers in Saudi Arabia. Churches in Libya, Nigeria, and Pakistan are attacked, as too is the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia.
18 February: Forty-five die in Nigeria as churches, hotels, and shops are torched in a predominantly Muslim northern state. Roberto Calderoli resigns from the Italian cabinet after being blamed for riots in Libya that ended with the destruction of the Italian Embassy and the loss of 10 lives. The Libyan interior minister and local police chiefs are sacked for using disproportionate force to quell the riots.
17 February: Ten Libyan protestors are killed during a demonstration that culminates with the burning of the Italian Embassy in Tripoli. Protestors link the demonstrations to the decision of an Italian minister to wear T-shirts showing the cartoons.
16 February: The Russian media watchdog pledges to take a tough line against any organization accused of "insulting religious feelings."
15 February: The Danish government says the Iraqi government wants Danish troops to remain. A far-right Italian minister, Roberto Calderoli, says he plans to wear T-shirts emblazoned with some of the "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons. In Pakistan, three more protestors are killed, one in Lahore and two in Peshawar, as tens of thousands demonstrate.
14 February: Pakistani police shoot dead two protesters in Lahore. In Iran, crowds attack the British and German embassies. Political leaders in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah call for Danish troops to leave the country. In Israel, a cartoonist launches a competition for the best anti-Semitic cartoons by Jews themselves. In Europe, the Portugese president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, promises support for Denmark and the democratic system in a dispute that reminds him of his country's dictatorial past.
13 February: A leading Iranian newspaper, "Hamshahri," invites cartoons about the Holocaust in a competition aimed at testing the limits of free speech in the West.
12 February: Intelligence reports suggest Danes in Indonesia are under threat. Denmark urges its nationals to leave the country. It had previously made similar appeals to Danes in many Muslim countries.
10 February: Thousands of Malayans protest, as Western and Muslim political, cultural, and religious leaders gather to discuss differences between the Western and Muslim worlds.
9 February: The Swedish government forces offline a website that asked readers to submit their own cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
8 February: Security forces open fire on protestors in the Afghan city of Qalat, killing four, on a day of angry and sometimes violent scenes around the world. Washington accuses the Syrian and Iranian governments of inciting violence.
7 February: Iran's largest newspaper invites cartoons of the Holocaust, saying it wants to test the limits of Western freedom of expression.
6 February: Widespread unrest over the cartoons reported in Afghanistan. One person was reported killed and four wounded in Laghman Province.
6 February: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expresses "distress" over the publication of the cartoons, but condemns the violent reactions in the Muslim world.
5 February: The Danish Consulate in Beirut, Lebanon, is torched.
4 February: Mobs burn the Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Chilean embassies in Syria. Protests in Denmark turn violent.
1 February: Papers in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain run reprints of the cartoons in a show of solidarity.
30 January: The EU says it will take World Trade Organization (WTO) action if the boycott persists. Several Islamic groups, including Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, call for a worldwide boycott of Danish products. Masked gunmen in storm EU office in Gaza. The Danish paper apologizes.
29 January: "Jyllands-Posten" prints a statement in Arabic saying the drawings were published in line with freedom of expression and not a campaign against Islam. Palestinians burn Danish flags and Libya announces it will close its embassy in Denmark.
28 January: The Danish company Arla places advertisements in Middle Eastern newspapers to try to stop boycott of its products.
27 January: Thousands denounce the cartoons during Friday prayers in Iraq.
26 January: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador to Denmark and initiates a boycott of Danish goods.
10 January 2006: The cartoons are reprinted by the Norwegian newspaper "Magazinet."
14 November: Jamaat-e-Islami, a Pakistan-based group, protests in Islamabad.
20 October: Ambassadors of 10 Muslim countries complain to Danish Prime Minister. "Jyllands-Posten" reports that illustrators have received death threats.
30 September 2005: The Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" publishes 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
(compiled by RFE/RL)