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Insolence, ignorance and abusive, Muslims say on French magazine's fresh cartoons
Al-Azhar calls on all Muslims to ignore this hateful frivolity, says stature of the Prophet of Mercy is greater and more lofty than to be harmed by cartoons
Thursday January 15, 2015 7:15 AM, Agencies

Muslim scholars in the Middle East, and in other parts of the world, who have denounced last week's attack on #Charlie Hebdo criticized the French satirical weekly on Wednesday for publishing new blasphemous cartoons in its first issue after the killings.

[Tunisian protesters shout slogans against French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo and their new front cover during a rally in Tunis on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)]

While mainstream Muslim leaders around the world have strongly condemned the attack on the newspaper, many said its decision to print more cartoons was an unnecessary provocation and sign of disrespect that would create a new backlash.

Algeria's independent Arab language daily Echorouk responded with a front page cartoon of its own, showing a man carrying a "Je suis Charlie" placard next to a military tank crushing placards from Palestine, Mali, Gaza, Iraq and Syria.

Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, while denouncing the publication of sacrilegious cartoons by French magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday, called the move "insolence, ignorance and foolishness."

"Freedom of speech must not become a hate-speech and it must not offend others. No sane person, regardless of doctrine, religion or faith, accepts his beliefs being ridiculed", he said.

Prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ghamdi said that publication of the latest image was a mistake.

"It's not a good way to make the people understand us. Jesus or Moses, all messengers (of God) we should respect," and should not be made fun of in pictures or words, Ghamdi said. "I believe it will make more problems."

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestinian lands, Mohammed Hussein, said such cartoons "fuel feelings of hatred and resentment among people" and publishing them "shows contempt" for Muslim feelings.

The International Union of Muslim Scholars also criticized the antics of Charlie Hebdo, claiming they would further stir up hatred, extremism and tension.

"It is neither reasonable, nor logical, nor wise to publish drawings and films offensive or attacking the Prophet of Islam," said the Qatar-based union, headed by Yusuf Al-Qardawi.

According to the union, publication of the drawing would give further "credibility" to the idea that "the West is against Islam."

It said: "If we agree that (those who committed the attacks) are a minority that do not represent Islam or Muslims, then how can we respond with actions that are not directed against them, but against the Prophet revered by a billion-and-a-half Muslims?"

In Iran, a leading conservative cleric, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, said the publication of new images "amounts to declaring war on all Muslims", and the government termed the move "insulting" and "provocative".

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the killings in Paris bore "no closeness or similarity to Islam" and were "in complete contradiction to Islamic teaching," she said.

However the new cartoon "provokes the emotions of Muslims around the world and hurts their feelings, and could fan the flame of a vicious circle of extremism," she told reporters.

Afkham said it was an "abuse of freedom of speech, which is common in the West these days."

"We condemn provocative moves and we regard the move by this weekly as being insulting," Afkham said, describing it as "not acceptable" and arguing that such "abuse should be prevented."

"Respecting the beliefs and values of followers of divine religions is an acceptable principle," she added.

India's leading Muslim group Jamaat-e-Islami Hind strongly condemned the magazine's move.

"Even before the French government could make public the result of the probe into the terrorist attacks and conspiracies behind it, the magazine has announced to republish the controversial cartoons just to hurt the religious sentiments of world Muslims," said Nusrat Ali, JIH secretary-general.

He said Charlie Hebdo's decision was extremely irresponsible and mischievous and aimed at spreading hatred toward Islam and Muslims in Europe and other parts of the world. "The French government's failure to stop the uncivilized acts of the magazine make its intention doubtful."

In Philippines, around 1,500 people protested on Wednesday against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police said.

Local politicians, teenaged students and women with veils covering their faces packed the main square in Marawi in the southern Philippines, some raising their fists in the air as a Charlie Hebdo poster was burned.

"What had happened in France, the Charlie Hebdo killing, is a moral lesson for the world to respect any kind of religion, especially the religion of Islam," organizers said in a statement released during the three-hour rally.

"Freedom of expression does not extend to insulting the noble and the greatest Prophet of Allah."

A group calling itself "Boses ng Masa," or Voice of the Masses organized the rally, which attracted about 1,500 people, Marawi police officer Esmail Biso told AFP.

Twelve people including eight Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists and two police officers were killed last week after militants struck the magazine's Paris office, in an attack that has sparked outrage worldwide.

The attacks triggered giant rallies in support of Charlie Hebdo's victims and the right to publish images of reverent figures.

The protest in the Philippines was one of first reported worldwide since the violence to express outrage at Charlie Hebdo.

The protesters carried streamers in with the words "You are Charlie" written in French, in response to the "I am Charlie" cry of those who condemned the attack.

One of the streamers read: "France must apologize," while another read: "You mock our prophet, now you want an apology?"

Some people on the streets in the Middle East meanwhile said it was time to move on. "The cartoons have no meaning, they should not affect us. We as Muslims are bigger and stronger than some cartoon. We should not pay attention, and if we react we should react with word for word and cartoon for cartoon," said Samir Mahmoud, a retired engineer in Cairo.

Leading Islamic authority Al-Azhar also denounced the new edition but said: "The stature of the Prophet of Mercy is greater and more lofty than to be harmed by cartoons that are unrestrained by decency and civilized standards."

It said: "Al-Azhar calls on all Muslims to ignore this hateful frivolity."

Emad Awad, a Christian in Cairo, said he understood the anger of his Muslim neighbors but hoped there would be no more unrest.

"I reject completely that pictures of the prophet be published anywhere, but they've made their decision to do it yet again, to show their freedoms aren't changed," he said.

"Now that they've made their point, I really hope this is the last time they do this. I don't think it will lead to more violence, but they missed an opportunity to leave the subject in the past and move forward", he added.

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