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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 11:15 GMT
Magazine banned over Prophet image
The Holy Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Islam does not permit images of the Prophet
Several Muslim countries have banned the latest issue of the Newsweek magazine, warning that depiction of the Prophet Mohammad in it could spark a widespread anger among Muslims.

We consider that the censorship of this international magazine is in the first place an attack on the free flow of information

Reporters Sans Frontieres
Malaysia became the latest country to join the chorus of protests over representations of the prophet, which are forbidden in Islam.

"Normally, if publications contain photographs said to be that of the Prophet Mohammad or such figures, the law of the country would have been violated. As such, we will not allow the edition to be circulated," Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

Earlier, Indonesia and Bangladesh had banned the magazine's issue, and the Egyptian parliament said the depiction of the prophet was blasphemous.

Newsweek said it regretted that its reproduction of several famous illustrations of Mohammed offended some Muslims.

Freedom of speech

The Paris-based organisation Reporters Sans Frontieres said the ban was an attack on freedom of speech.

"Aware that the representation of Muslim prophets is forbidden, we nevertheless consider that the censorship of this international magazine is in the first place an attack on the free flow of information," the organisation said in a statement.

It said the ban deprived all local non-Muslim and foreign residents of an internationally well known publication.

The row started after the Newsweek published an undated Turkish manuscript depicting the Prophet Mohammad with the angel Gabriel in an article exploring similarities and differences between Islamic and Christian scriptures.

The magazine said it believed the article and accompanying pictures constituted a fair and sensitive discussion of Islam.

Another American weekly, Time, apologised last year after publishing an image of the prophet, which triggered protests by Muslim students in Indian-administered Kashmir.

See also:

22 Apr 01 | South Asia
Time sorry for Muhammad image
12 Feb 99 | South Asia
Rushdie effigies burned in India
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