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Thousands in Malaysia Stage Anti-Cartoon March

From The Chosun Ilbo of February 10, 2006

Muslims in Kuala Lumpur hold up banners, protesting against the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper
Thousands of Muslims marched in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Friday, in a continuation of protests against controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Police say about 2,000 protesters marched from a mosque to the nearby Danish embassy chanting slogans against Israel and the West.
The protest coincided with a government-imposed ban on circulating cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told an international conference that the Muslim world and the West must to stop demonizing each other and "accept one another as equals."
Mr. Abdullah said there are multitudes of voices speaking on behalf of Islam and the West that do not do justice to either, including Osama bin Laden, who the prime minister said does not speak for Islam.

Malaysia bans possession of Prophet cartoons

By Mark Bendeich (From Reuters of Friday Feb 10, 2006)

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has slapped a blanket ban on circulating or even possessing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad after it closed a local newspaper for printing the same caricatures that have enraged the Islamic world.
In neighboring Indonesia, police said on Friday they were questioning an editor over publication of a cartoon of the prophet.
In a short statement confirming its order to shut down the Sarawak Tribune, the government of mainly-Muslim Malaysia said it had issued the ban to ensure racial harmony.
It is now an offence to publish, import, produce, manufacture, circulate, distribute or possess caricatures that may "jeopardize public harmony and safety, which may cause chaos, or endanger public peace or national interest", it said.
The Sarawak Tribune blamed a non-Muslim editor's "oversight" for its publication last weekend of the caricatures that sparked violent protests in parts of the Muslim world.
The incident embarrassed Malaysia's government, headed by an Islamic scholar who also currently chairs the world's largest grouping of Islamic nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
"We are very serious about this," Mohamed Nazri Aziz, a minister in the prime minister's department, told the New Straits Times in its Friday edition.
"As the Organization of the Islamic Conference chairman, it would be awkward if Malaysia slams the West for their insensitivity when, in our own backyard, we don't have control."
Tens of thousands of Muslims have demonstrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa over cartoons first published in Denmark, then other countries in Europe and elsewhere.
One caricature showed the Prophet Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Many Muslims consider any portrayal of their Prophet as blasphemous, let alone one showing him as a terrorist.
The Sarawak Tribune is published in Malaysia's eastern state of Sarawak on the jungle-clad island of Borneo. It is one of the few Malaysian states where Muslims are in a minority.
The government has suspended the paper's publishing license pending the outcome of an investigation by the Internal Security Ministry, but it is unclear if the Tribune will ever reopen, even when the suspension order is lifted.
"There may not be a Sarawak Tribune anymore," the daily's editorial advisor, Idris Buang, told local media.
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, an editor was being questioned over his tabloid Peta's publication of a caricature of the prophet, police official Kusdiyanto in the Jakarta suburb area of Bekasi told Reuters.
"The PETA chief editor was named a suspect since yesterday. We have been investigating him for the past three days. He has not been detained yet," Kusdiyanto said.
"He is named a suspect for publishing the prophet cartoon."
Kusdiyanto declined to specify what statutes might be involved but the Jakarta Post newspaper said an article on religious blasphemy applied, which carried a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Thursday in a speech marking his country's national press day: "We must take a lesson from the publication in a Danish newspaper. The rights of press freedom are not absolute."
"Whatever the faith, we must respect it."
Both Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while condemning the cartoons, have also spoken out against violence over the issue.
The Malaysian leader said on Friday killers of innocent people do not speak for Islam and those who invade and occupy someone else's land do not speak for the West.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also condemned the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad as "provocative and wrong", the Straits Times newspaper said.
"We would not have allowed it in Singapore," Lee said. "In a multiracial society, we must respect one another's religions, and not deliberately insult or desecrate what others hold sacred."
(Additional reporting in Jakarta by Ade Rina and Jerry Norton)


Malaysia Expresses Regret Over Publication
Of Prophet's Caricatures

From Bernama of February 04, 2006

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- Malaysia Saturday expressed its deepest regret over the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, which has touched off fury across the Islamic world.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a statement: "This deplorable act is a blatant disregard for Islamic sensitivities over the use of such images, which are particularly insulting to and forbidden by Islam."
He noted that it was even more regrettable that newspapers and journals in some other countries such as Norway, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain had seen it fit to reproduce the Danish newspaper's offending caricatures despite worldwide protests against the publication of those images.
"This is a deliberate act of provocation. They should cease and desist from doing so," said Abdullah, who is chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Organisation (OIC).
The Prime Minister, however, called upon Malaysians to remain calm and rational.
"Let the perpetrators of the insult see the gravity of their own mistakes which only they themselves can and should correct," he said.
Twelve caricatures depicting the prophet, first published by the Jyllands-Posten daily in Denmark in September last year and then reprinted in newspapers in the other countries, have sparked anger and sadness among millions of Muslims throughout the world.
Muslims have protested on the streets of capitals across the world. Yesterday, more than 150 people stormed a high-rise building housing the Embassy of Denmark in Jakarta, and tore down and burned the country's flag.
Pakistan's parliament yesterday passed a resolution condemning the drawings as "blasphemous and derogatory" while Danish products are being boycotted in West Asia.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York yesterday that freedom of the press should not be an excuse for insulting religions, and expressed concern over the controversy.
Meanwhile, in KOTA BAHARU, the Malaysian Indian Muslims Congress (Kimma) today called on the Jyllands-Posten daily in Denmark to apologise to Islamic countries for having published the caricatures.
Its national president, Amir Amsaa Alla Pitchay, said in a statement faxed to the Bernama bureau there that the caricatures were published with evil intention and disregard for the sensitivities of Muslims.

Read "Two viewpoints on the Danish cartoons"  here:   Opinion/Essays

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