Muslims around the world condemn Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cover
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Leaders of Muslim faith groups and public officials in countries and territories where Islam is a predominant religion reacted with a mix of anger, condemnation and disappointement to Wednesday's edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose cover features a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.
The image features the Prophet shedding a tear and holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign under the words "All is forgiven."
Charlie Hebdo staff writer Zineb El Rhazoui said the cover was a call for forgiveness for the attackers who killed her colleagues last week and urged Muslims to accept the magazine's use of humour.
“We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology,” El Rhazoui told the BBC.
However, the reaction from many Muslim leaders and followers around the world suggested they felt their religion was being targeted.
- Egypt-based Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious learning institute, denounced the cover as a "hateful frivolty" but urged Muslims to "ignore" the cartoon. "The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanitarianism is greater and more lofty than to be harmed by cartoons that are unrestrained by decency and civilised standards," said the Sunni authority.
- The Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars said in a statement late Tuesday that "it is neither reasonable, nor logical, nor wise to publish drawings and films offensive to or attacking the prophet of Islam". Headed by Egyptian-born Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who is seen as a spiritual guide for the Muslim Brotherhood, the union said the cover would give "credibility" to the notion that "the West is against Islam."
- Prominent Saudi cleric Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ghamedi told AFP agency the publication of the image was a mistake. "It's not a good way to make the people understand us. Jesus or Moses, all messengers [of God] we should respect," Ghamedi said.
- Mohammed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and highest religious authority in the Palestinian Territories, condemned the cover as an "insult" that "has hurt the feelings of the world's nearly two billion Muslims" and that risked to "damage relations" between Muslims, Christians and Jews.
- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "unless we learn to respect one another, it will be very difficult in a world of different views and different cultures and civilisations. [...] We would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogue, serious debate about our differenes. Then we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than that what divides us," Zarif said ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran's nuclear program.
- Around 1,500 people protested in the Philippines against the caricatures in Marawi, in the south of the country. "What happened in France, the Charlie Hebdo killing, is a moral lesson for the world to respect any kind of religion, especially the religion of Islam," organisers said. "Freedom of expression does not extend to insulting the noble and the greatest prophet of Allah."
- Social networks went abuzz with messages denouncing the disrespect for religion in the name of freedom of expression. On Twitter, many of these were hashtagged #JeSuisMohammed and #JeSuisMuslim.