He said the newspaper would abide by the order for now though it planned to appeal the ban.
 
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia's prime minister, condemned publication of the Jesus caricature, saying it was unacceptable in a multi-racial society.
 
Last year, Badawi, a Muslim, imposed similar bans on two newspapers that reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
 
Report filed
 
Makkal Osai printed the caricature last Tuesday on its front page with a caption quoting Christ as saying: "If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits them."
 
The paper's editor apologised, saying the caricature had been taken from the internet, but a local politician filed a police report, calling it a "threat to national harmony".
 
Periasamy said the graphic artist who downloaded the picture of Jesus had overlooked the fact that the picture had been altered to insert a cigarette in one hand and another object, possibly a can, in the other.
 
The artist had since been suspended, he said.
 
'Desecration'
 
Murphy Pakiam, Kuala Lumpur's archbishop, criticised the picture as "desecration" but later accepted the newspaper's apology.
 
Some Muslim groups joined church groups this week in calling for action to be taken against the newspaper.
 
Just over half of Malaysia's roughly 26 million people are Muslims, almost all of them ethnic Malays, who are deemed to be Muslim by birth.
 
The country's large non-Muslim minority is largely made up of Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.
 
Malaysia has maintained peaceful relations between the races and religions since riots in 1969, in which hundreds were killed.