Egypt: Muslim-Christian body slams reissuing of Danish cartoons

Cairo, 26 Feb. (AKI) The Al-Azhar-Vatican interfaith dialogue committee on Tuesday denounced the republication earlier this month by Danish daily Danish Jlyands-Posten and other newspapers in Denmark of a cartoon satirising the Prophet Mohammed which two years ago outraged Muslims in many countries.

The Al-Azhar-Vatican committee issued a final communique on wrapping up its two-day meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. It highlighted statements by Pope Benedict XVI to the Moroccan ambassador to the Holy See on the need for Christianity and Islam to respect each other's religious beliefs and symbols, the Egyptian news agency MENA reported on its website.

Members of the committee called on the media not to misuse the freedom of expression to insult religious beliefs and symbols, MENA said.

The Al-Azhar mosque and Islamic University are among the most authoritative sources of Sunni Islamic learning.

Sudan's SUNA news agency reported on Tuesday the government had banned the import of Danish goods. It blamed Denmark's government for allowing newspapers to reprint the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

The cartoon's republication by a dozen Danish newspapers apparently sparked youths riots in immigrant suburbs of the Danish capital, Copenhagen and in cities across Denmark earlier this month.

The cartoon's republication followed the arrests by Danish police of five people suspected of involvement in a plot to murder 73-year-old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was originally published by Jlyands-Posten in 2006.

The cartoons, including one depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist, were republished all over the world, and angered many Muslims.

At least 50 people were killed in violent protests in Muslim countries, Westergaard and his colleagues reportedly received death threats, several newspaper editors in were sacked, and a number of Middle Eastern countries embargoed Scandinavian goods over the cartoons.

In late January 2006, Jlyands-Posten's editor-in-chief Carsten Juste of issued an apology for having published the cartoons, saying they were not intended to be offensive but had "indisputably offended many Muslims."


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