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Muslim leaders decry French cartoons, but call for calm

Muslim leaders Wednesday condemned  French magazine 's cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, but urged Muslims to protest peacefully.

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Riot policemen stand guard outside the French embassy in Cairo Wednesday. A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him as a lecherous fool

Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

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Muslim and Arab leaders on Wednesday denounced cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French magazine as another insult to their faith but urged people to shun a violent reaction and to protest peacefully.

The cartoons, featured in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair on its cover. Several caricatures of the Prophet were included on its inside pages, including some of him naked.

Their publication follows widespread outrage and violent anti-Western protests in many Muslim countries in Africa and Asia in the past week over an anti-Muslim film posted on the Internet.

The Arab League called the cartoons "provocative and outrageous". It said in a statement that they could increase the volatile situation in the Arab and Islamic worlds since the release of the film.

The League appealed to Muslims offended by the cartoons to "use peaceful means to express their firm rejection."

The acting head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Erian, said the French judiciary should deal with the issue as firmly as it had handled the case against the magazine which published topless pictures of Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William.

"If the case of Kate (the duchess) is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected," he said.

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