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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 16:05 GMT
Muslims call for changes in law
Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi (centre), who chaired the meeting
Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi said repeatedly using the cartoons was "malicious"
Muslim scholars who gathered for an emergency meeting have called for changes to the law to stop images of the Prophet Muhammad being published.

Members of the Muslim Action Committee (MAC) who met in Birmingham called for changes to the Race Relations Act and the Press Complaints Commission code.

They are to stage a protest march in London on 18 February, expected to attract 20,000 to 50,000 people.

The MAC was responding to the cartoons which satirise Muhammad.

Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi, who chaired the meeting, said Wednesday's gathering of about 300 Islamic religious leaders was the largest meeting of its kind he knew of in his 25 years of living in the UK.

'Deeply offensive'

He said the MAC was meeting to bring cohesion to the debate among Muslims about how to respond to the publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper and their subsequent repetition in other countries.

The discussions among the religious leaders, who had travelled to an Islamic centre in Small Heath from across the UK, lasted for two hours.

What kicks can you get out of seeing this caricature, except to insult the Prophet of Islam?
Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi

Mr Saddiqi said they had concluded they wanted the Race Relations Act modified to give Muslims the same protection as Sikhs or Jews.

He also said the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct should be tightened to prevent publication of any images of Muhammad, but added the clerics accepted criticism and discussion of Islam should be allowed.

He said the code was a voluntary code to ensure the media treated people with respect and called for that respect to be shown to Muslims, whose religion forbids any pictorial depiction of Muhammad.

France Soir
The cartoons have been repeated in other papers, such as France Soir

Mr Saddiqi said: "That act in itself is deeply offensive, it's akin to someone standing up in your face and abusing your mum, your sister, your dad, and it's akin to a deliberate act of provocation."

He said Muslims could accept a one-off publication of such an image as a misjudgement and said this was why it took several months for anger at the cartoons, first published in October, to gain momentum.

But he said other media organisations continuing to show the cartoons knew they were causing offence.

He said: "It happens once, it happens twice but a third time you are going to take action.

"Enough is enough, we have to get back to being a civil society.

"What kicks can you get out of seeing this caricature, except to insult the Prophet of Islam?"

He praised the UK media for not publishing the cartoons.


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