Islamic body warns of turmoil over French cartoons


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has warned that cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) published in France will trigger a new wave of anti-Western violence. In a statement, OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu “expressed shock and dismay over” the depictions and warned they would “further exacerbate the ongoing turmoil and violence created by the release of the anti-Islam film (Innocence of Muslims)”. Angry protests linked to the movie has left more than 30 people dead since last week, with much of the violence targeting the United States where the film was produced. French ministers fear the focus could now shift to Paris’s overseas outposts following the publications of the cartoons in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
“The French weekly should pay heed to the concerns of the international community on incitement and intolerance of religious beliefs,” said Ihsanoglu, calling on the political and religious “leadership of the world and all stakeholders to take a united stand against fanatics and radicals.” He said it was time the international community took “serious note of the dangerous implications of hate speech and inciting publications and come out of hiding behind the excuse of freedom of expression.” The film and the cartoons constituted a “deliberate, motivated and systematic abuse” of freedom of speech and “posed a clear and present danger to peace, security and stability in the region as well as the global context.” He further called on Muslims worldwide “to exercise restraint in testing times.” Embassies, consulates, cultural centers and international French schools in around 20 Muslim countries will be closed on foreign ministry orders Friday for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers.