Endure the insults, Muslims told
21 September 2012, 11:27
Cairo - Muslims angered by cartoons mocking the
Prophet Muhammad should follow his example of enduring insults without
retaliating, Egypt's highest Islamic legal official said.
embassies tightened security in Sanaa, fearing the cartoons published
in a French magazine on Wednesday could lead to more unrest in the
Yemeni capital where crowds attacked the US mission last week over an
anti-Islam film made in America.
In the latest of a wave of
protests against that video in the Islamic world, several thousand
Shi'ite Muslims demonstrated in the northern Nigerian town of Zaria,
burning an effigy of US President Barack Obama and crying "Death to
In the Pakistani capital, about 1 000 stone-throwing
protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the
US embassy on Thursday and the government shut down mobile phone
services in more than a dozen cities as part of security arrangements
ahead of protests expected on Friday.
The US embassy in Pakistan
has been running television advertisements, one featuring Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, emphasising that the US government had nothing to
do with the film.
The US and French embassies were closed on
Friday in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, which has the world's biggest
Muslim population, and diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul,
were on lock-down.
The cartoons in France's Charlie Hebdo
satirical weekly have provoked relatively little street anger, although
about 100 Iranians demonstrated outside the French embassy in Tehran.
Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, the Islamist-led
government decreed a ban on protests planned on Friday against the
cartoons. Four people died and almost 30 were wounded last week when
protesters incensed by the movie about the Prophet Mohammad stormed the
An Islamist activist called for attacks in France to avenge the perceived insult to Islam by the "slaves of the cross".
al-Qahtani said on a website used by Islamist militants and monitored
by the US-based SITE intelligence group: "Is there someone who will roll
up his sleeves and bring back to us the glory of the hero Mohammed
He was referring to an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman who
killed seven people, including three Jewish children, in the southern
French city of Toulouse in March.
Condemning the publication of
the cartoons in France as an act verging on incitement, Egypt's Grand
Mufti Ali Gomaa said on Thursday it showed how polarised the West and
the Muslim world had become.
Gomaa said Mohammad and his
companions had endured "the worst insults from the non-believers of his
time. Not only was his message routinely rejected, but he was often
chased out of town, cursed and physically assaulted on numerous
"But his example was always to endure all personal
insults and attacks without retaliation of any sort. There is no doubt
that, since the Prophet is our greatest example in this life, this
should also be the reaction of all Muslims."
His statement echoed
one by Al Azhar, Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni learning, which
condemned the caricatures showing the Prophet naked but said any protest
should be peaceful.
An official at the Coptic Orthodox Church in
Egypt, whose population of 83 million people is 10% Christian, also
condemned the cartoons as insults to Islam.
Last week, some
Egyptian protesters scaled the US Embassy walls and tore down the flag.
They clashed with police for four days, although most of the thousands
of Egyptians who took to the streets did so peacefully.
said insults to Islam and the response, including the killing of the US
ambassador in Libya and attacks on other Western embassies in the
region, could not be dissociated from other points of conflict between
the West and the Muslim world.
He cited the treatment of Muslims
at the US detention centre in Guantanamo, the US-led war in Iraq, drone
attacks in Yemen and Pakistan, and the demonisation of Muslims by
far-right European parties as "underlying factors" for the tension.
then insist on igniting these simmering tensions by publishing hurtful
and insulting material in a foolhardy attempt at bravado - asserting the
superiority of Western freedoms over alleged Muslim closed-mindedness -
verges on incitement," he said in his statement published on the
Reuters blog FaithWorld.
After the invasion of the US embassy in
Tunis on Friday last week, the Tunisian Interior Ministry has banned
protests against the cartoon this Friday "to prevent human and material
The European Union issued a joint appeal, through its
foreign policy chief, with the Arab League, African Union and
Organisation of Islamic Co-operation for "peace and tolerance".
"We condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility and violence," the EU said.
fully recognising freedom of expression, we believe in the importance
of respecting all prophets, regardless of which religion they belong
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, condemned the cartoons as "a systematic plot" against Islam.
co-ordinated and continued silence of Western countries towards these
hateful anti-Islamic actions, is the primary reason for the repetition
of such insulting actions," he said.
Deeply undemocratic countries
He was speaking a day after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called the publication of the cartoons a provocation.
Danish cartoonist who outraged Muslims with a drawing of the Prophet
seven years ago said the West could not let itself be muzzled by fear of
offending Islamic sensibilities.
Kurt Westergaard, whose lampoon
of Mohammad in the Jyllands-Posten paper nearly got him killed by an
axe-wielding assassin in 2010, told Austrian magazine News he had no
regrets about his work and said freedom of speech was too precious to
"Should we in future let ourselves be censored by Islamic authorities in deeply undemocratic countries?" he asked.
For many Muslims, any depiction of Muhammad is blasphemous.
furore over the anti-Islam film and the cartoons has presented a tough
challenge to new authorities in Arab countries where popular uprisings
have overthrown entrenched autocrats.
In Libya, where militias
that helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi still wield much power, the
foreign minister offered a further apology for US ambassador Christopher
Stevens' death to visiting US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns
Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack
on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by gunmen among a
crowd protesting against the film that denigrated the Prophet.