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Iran protests over Swedish Muhammad cartoon

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18:17 CEST+02:00
Iran summoned a Swedish diplomat to its foreign ministry on Monday to protest against a cartoon in a Swedish newspaper depicting the head of Prophet Muhammad on a dog's body, Sweden's foreign ministry said.

"Gunilla von Bahr, Sweden's charge d'affaires, was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry today where she received a protest from the Iranian government," foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Björkander told AFP.

The Iranian government told Von Bahr the cartoon was "offensive to Prophet Muhammad," Björkander said, refusing to disclose any further details of the meeting.

The cartoon was drawn by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, whose series of drawings of the prophet as a dog have sparked a controversy in Sweden. Several art galleries refused to display the sketches amid fears of angry reactions from Muslims.

The Örebro local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published one of the drawings on August 18 to illustrate an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of religion.

"The editorial was critical of the fact that so many had turned down Vilks's drawings for fear of the reactions they would provoke," Nerikes Allehanda's chief editor Ulf Johansson told AFP.

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On Saturday, a week after the publication, a group of about 60 Muslims held a demonstration outside the newspaper's office to protest against the publication of the sketch.

The publication of 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark's biggest daily Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 led to violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world in January and February 2006.

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