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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 14:05 GMT
Malaysia paper shut over cartoon
Malaysian Muslims shout slogans during a protest in front of the Danish embassy in Kuala Lumpur February 3, 2006.
Malaysia has seen small protests over the cartoons
The Malaysian government has suspended publication of a regional newspaper after it reprinted controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Sarawak Tribune, distributed across part of Malaysian Borneo, is the first newspaper in the country to be shut down in almost 20 years.

Sarawak is one of the few areas in Malaysia where Muslims are in a minority.

The cartoon appeared on the inside pages of Saturday's Sarawak Tribune.

The paper responded quickly by sacking the part-time duty editor who was in charge that day and by issuing two apologies.

However, that has not satisfied the government and the Cabinet subsequently agreed to suspend the paper's licence.

Police in Sarawak are calling in senior members of the Tribune's editorial staff for interview before deciding whether or not criminal charges should be brought.

Officers have been deployed outside the paper's premises in the city of Kuching.

According to the local media, this is only the fourth time a newspaper has had its licence suspended since Malaysia gained its independence in 1957. Three papers were closed during a political crisis in the late 1980s.

However, the response to the publication of the cartoons, both in Sarawak and abroad, has generally been measured, according to the BBC's correspondent in Kuala Lumpur.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has deplored foreign publications' decision to print the caricature but has called for a calm and rational response.

Malaysia's conservative Islamic opposition party said a better understanding between people of different faiths was needed.

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