About 2,500 Chinese Muslims chanting "Punish China's Rushdie!" marched through Beijing on Friday demanding that two editors be imprisoned for publishing a book that purportedly describes the sexual habits of Muslims.
"These men must be jailed," said Li Jing, a Uighur Turk from the Central Academy of Nationalities and a leader of the protest. "If they disappeared from the face of the earth, we would be happy."
The protest came a day after Iranian President Ali Khamenei told a news conference in Beijing that Iran still demands the execution of British author Salman Rushie, who is accused of blaspheming the Islamic religion in his book, "The Satanic Verses."
The Chinese book in question is called "Sex Habits," a compilation of essays on the sexual tastes of people around the world.
The section on Islam says that the purpose of a Muslim's pilgrimage to Mecca is to engage in bestiality. It said the domes and towers of Muslim mosques symbolize human sex organs.
In an unusually early report by Chinese standards, Beijing's afternoon newspaper, the Beijing Evening News, reported the demonstration. It also said the book had been banned in Beijing "because it has hurt the unity of China's minorities."
The demonstration, which included students from eight school and 13 minority groups, twisted through the streets of Beijing's Muslim quarter to the Niujie Mosque, Bejing's oldest.
Mullahs at the temple set out tea for the marchers and police directed traffic out of their path. The demonstration was the first in more than three weeks of student protests in Beijing to be given official approval. Earlier protests have called for a free press and democracy.
The book's editors, apparently teachers from Shanxi province, wrote under pen names.
The book has sold rapidly since it was published by the Shanghai Cultural Publishing Co. in March. Sources said that in early May, the Shanghai city government stopped a second printing of the book, which had already sold 50,000 copies.
City officials also are trying to recall the book, offering three times its official price of 94 cents, but to no avail, they said.
"The black market price has already hit 50 yuan ($13.50)," said one Chinese journalist.