Legal redress sought over cartoons

A Canadian magazine is reprinting Danish cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad, prompting Muslim groups to press for hate-crime charges against the publication.

    Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad sparked worldwide protests

    The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, based in Calgary, said on Monday it filed a complaint against the Western Standard, a right-wing weekly newsmagazine that is reprinting eight of the 12 cartoons.

    The cartoons have sparked protests around the world and riots in some Muslim countries.

    Syed Soharwardy, president of the council, said his group has not seen the magazine's latest edition but would try to have Calgary police investigate the Western Standard for hate crimes.

    "This is a provocation of Canadians and an insult to our religion," he said.

    "We are convinced that within the boundaries of Canada there is a way that we can prosecute these people. The whole Muslim community is seriously looking into this and consulting with lawyers."

    Grounds for prosecution

    Canadian law prohibits the wilful incitement of hatred towards any identifiable group, based on ethnicity, region or sexual orientation.

    While the cartoons have been reprinted by several European newspapers, no major Canadian newspaper has run the series.

    "This is a provocation of Canadians and an insult to our religion"

    Syed Soharwardy,
    Islamic Supreme Council of Canada

    One of the cartoons was reprinted by Le Devoir in Montreal. A University of Prince Edward Island student newspaper printed the cartoons but copies were ordered off the campus.

    The Globe and Mail, published in Toronto, said on Saturday that running the cartoons "would be both gratuitous and unnecessarily provocative".

    Ezra Levant, publisher of the Western Standard, told CBC television the magazine decided to publish the cartoons because it considered them newsworthy.

    "We're not publishing them for their editorial merits," he said.

    "They're boring cartoons. They're bland. They're not interesting. We're not running them because we share their views. We're running them because they're the central fact that caused Muslim radicals around the world to riot."

    Annan comments

    Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, has said Iran, Syria and other governments that failed to protect foreign embassies from mobs protesting over the cartoons should pay for the damage.

    In Lebanon, protesters torched
    the Danish consulate

    "The government has a responsibility to prevent these things from happening. They should have stopped it, not just in Syria or Iran but all around," Annan said.

    "Not having stopped it, I hope they will pick up the bill for the destruction," he told CNN. "They should be prepared to pay for the damage done to Danish, Norwegian and the other embassies concerned."

    Danish facilities have been singled out for attacks, including diplomatic missions in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

    Iranian Holocaust competition

    In Iran, a

    Brazilian has become the first person to 

    enter a newspaper contest for

    cartoons on the Holocaust.

    "We don't intend retaliation over the drawings of the

    prophet. We just want to show that freedom is restricted in

    the West"

    Davood Kazemi,
    Hamshahri newspaper

    The contest was devised by Hamshahri, one of Iran's

    five leading newspapers.

    The newspaper said its contest was a test of the Western

    world's readiness to print cartoons about the Nazi

    slaughter of six million Jews in the second world war.

    The first entry depicts a man, smoking a cigarette and

    wearing a prison uniform, with a

    wall and guard tower in the background.

    The man, with a moustache and several days growth of beard,

    is wearing a white keffiyeh and has his right hand over his

    forehead and eyes.

    On his chest is a red crescent with a letter "P".

    Below is the number 7256, the significance of which

    was not immediately clear, although Israel is said to be

    holding about 8000 Palestinian prisoners.

    Davood Kazemi, executive manager of the

    contest and cartoon editor at the paper, said:

    "We don't intend retaliation over the drawings of the

    prophet. We just want to show that freedom is restricted in

    the West."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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