By JULIA ZAPPEI, Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A crowd of Chinese onlookers heckled and hit a Japanese family with inflated plastic batons Monday after the three unfurled a Tibetan flag before the start of the Malaysian leg of the.
The family, comprising two adults and a boy, was detained by police, who also took a Buddhist monk and a British woman wearing a “” T-shirt into custody. All five were later released.
Criticism of‘s human rights record has turned August into one of the most contentious in recent history.
Protests have dogged the round-the-world torch relay during its stops in Paris, London and, with demonstrations over China’s crackdown in Tibet where it forcefully put down anti-government .
Though the torch’s most recent legs in South America, Africa and Asia have been relatively trouble-free, host countries have beefed up security in an effort to thwart possible disruptions.
About 1,000 police stood ready to guard the relay inagainst protests. A Buddhist group held special prayers at a temple for a trouble-free torch run and a peaceful .
The president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Imran Jaafar, set off with the torch, jogging a short distance before handing it to the next runner in the relay covering 10 miles through downtown Kuala Lumpur.