CAIRO -- Muslims spat on the American flag, threw tomatoes at a picture of President Bush, and burned the US Constitution in protests yesterday across the Muslim world over the alleged desecration of Islam's holy book at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Waving copies of the Koran, many of the thousands of demonstrators across the Middle East and Asia chanted anti-American slogans and demanded an apology from the United States, as well as punishment for those who treated the book with disrespect at the US lockup.
Rallies were held yesterday in Eygpt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Sudan.
US investigators conceded Thursday that there was mishandling of the Koran but contend it was mostly inadvertent and deny that one had been put in a toilet. Yesterday's protests were organized before the officials' comments in Washington.
Many Muslims were outraged earlier this month when Newsweek reported interrogators at the prison at Guantanamo Bay flushed a Koran down the toilet to get inmates to talk. The story -- later retracted -- sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan.
''The defilement of our holy book is outrageous because we consider it to be the word of God," said Asiya Andrabi, head of the Daughters of the Community and one of about 50 women clad in black Islamic veils who marched through Srinagar, India.
Some marchers burned symbolic copies of the US Constitution and the American flag, and school and offices were closed for the demonstration in Srinagar.
Later, police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse hundreds of men who gathered outside a mosque.
Police watched many of the rallies, which were mostly peaceful.
In the Egyptian city of Alexandria, some 12,000 Muslims and followers of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood filled a three-story building and spilled onto surrounding streets, which were sealed off by riot and street police.
Through loudspeakers, speakers called on the government and Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world's most prestigious seat of learning, to demand an American apology.