Muslims decry French Mohammad cartoons as new insult

Reuters reports: Muslim leaders criticised a French magazine’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday as another Western insult to their faith and urged France’s government to take firm action against it.

“We reject and condemn the French cartoons that dishonour the Prophet and we condemn any action that defames the sacred according to people’s beliefs,” the acting head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Erian, said.

The cartoons were featured in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Its front cover showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair and several caricatures of the Prophet were included on its inside pages, including some of him naked.

The Guardian reports: Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said that French law should deal with insults against Islam in the same way as it deals with Holocaust denial.

“If anyone doubts the Holocaust happened, they are imprisoned, yet if anyone insults the prophet, his companions or Islam, the most (France) does is to apologise in two words. It is not fair or logical,” he said.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council for Jewish Institutions, said he disapproved of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons after the killings in the row over the film.

“It is in consideration of those deaths that I disapprove of Charlie Hebdo’s initiative,” he said in a statement. “To publish caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in these times, in the name of freedom, is an irresponsible kind of panache.”

Dalil Boubakeur, the senior imam at the Grande Mosquée de Paris, appealed for France’s Muslim community, which is the largest in Europe, to remain calm and not “throw oil on the fire”.

André Vingt-Trois, the Catholic Archbishop of Paris, told French radio the cartoons would “provoke revulsion among many Muslim believers, who will feel their faith has been insulted”. He added: “You cannot say anything in the name of freedom of expression.”

Laurent Fabius, the minister of foreign affairs, said he was “against all provocation”.

However, Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, was unrepentant. He said the latest caricatures would shock “only those who will want to be shocked”.

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