Malegaon/Dhule/Jalgaon: Maharashtra's leading Marathi daily Lokmat on Monday published on its front page an unconditional apology for hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims after publication of the blasphemous and insulting caricature in its Sunday edition.
"The religious sentiments of Muslim brothers have been hurt by the publication of a graphic with some Arabic text along with an article on Daesh (ISIS). Lokmat apologises for this grave mistake on its part, and tenders an unconditional apology", the Marathi daily said on Monday.
It said the mistake was "unintentional" and the paper never intended to hurt the sentiments of anyone, adding it regards all religions with equal respect.
The newspaper also said it would take action against anyone found guilty of this 'unintentional' error.
The apology by the Lokmat followed peaceful protests on Sunday by members of the Muslim community in Malegaon, Bhiwandi, Dhule, Nandurbar, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Jalna, Prabhani and other parts of Maharashtra.
Though some media outlets are reporting that some of the Lokmat offices in Maharashtra were attacked, ummid.com could not confirm these reports. Instead, talking to ummid.com the Muslims said the protests against Lokmat were indeed held in about a dozen cities in Maharashtra, but they were all peaceful and nowhere the office of Lokmat was attacked. They also denied damaging public properties at any place during the protest.
Contrary to the media reports suggesting violent protests by the Muslims following the publication of blasphemous cartoon, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sunil Kadasne during a meeting with protesters on Sunday expressed anguish over the caricature and praised the peace and harmony Muslims maintained during their protests.
Protests erupted in different parts of Maharashtra Sunday afternoon after images of the Lokmat caricature circulated on social media went viral. Copies of the Lokmat Sunday Editon was burnt and appeals were issued to boycott the Marathi daily.
Users on social media soon replaced their profile pictures with 'black flags' and some others with Lokmat logo crossed in red ink.
The Muslims, at the same time, asserted that their protest is not against the article on Daesh (ISIS) which the Lokmat carried in its Sunday Edition, adding that the Daesh or ISIS terrorist activities are against the teaching of Islam.
"Muslims have always condemned the terrorist activities by any group irrespective of their religious affiliation, including by Daesh. But, how can anyone mock or insult our Prophet (peace be upon him) in the name of condemning terror?" Ghulam Rasool said while talking to ummid.com.
Following the complaints lodged by protesters associated with various Muslim organisations like All India Sunni Jamiat-e-Ulema, Kul Jamaati Tanzeem, Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, police in Malegaon and Nandurbar booked a case against Lokmat under different sections of IPC.