CAIRO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - 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,
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
Their publication follows widespread outrage and violent
anti-Western protests in many Muslim countries in Africa and
Asia in the past week over an anti-Muslim film posted on the
Erian said the French judiciary should deal with the issue
as firmly as it had handled the case against the magazine which
published topless pictures of Britain's Duchess of Cambridge,
the wife of Prince William.
"If the case of Kate (the duchess) is a matter of privacy,
then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs
of others must be respected," he said.
Erian also spoke out against any violent reaction from
Muslims but said peaceful protests were justified.
Mahmoud Ghozlan, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood,
welcomed French government criticism of the cartoons but 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.
An official in Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said the move
was a deliberate provocation. It showed "some international
powers" wanted violence to escalate in Egypt so that the country
would not develop economically, the official, who asked not to
be named, said without elaborating.
In 2005, Danish cartoons of the Prophet caused a wave of
violent protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50
people were killed.