Muhammad cartoon row continues

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Nearing the one year anniversary of the publication of twelve controversial editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, a leading authority of Sunni Islam has demanded that the newspaper be shut down.

In an interview with the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, Grand Iman of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo and formerly Grand Mufti of the Republic, demanded the closure of Jyllands Posten, the paper responsible for publishing the cartoons. He went on to call for chief editor Carsten Juste to be jailed for three years, and for the editor of the paper's cartoon section, Flemming Rose, be depicted as a pig.

"It is thought provoking," Rose said, "that he (Tantawi) believes it would be a punishment for me to be depicted as a pig. It confirms that the imam has a shocking lack of knowledge about our civilisation, and it confirms the need for dialogue." Rose added that it shows how blasphemy law in the Arab world is used to suppress those with views different from those in power.

Tantawi called the drawings "one of the most serious crimes ever committed."

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