Egypt joins in Muhammad cartoon row

The Egyptian government and a Saudi-based Muslim organization on Sunday both joined the condemnation of the publication in Sweden of a cartoon of Islam's prophet.

Egypt’s Ministry of Al-Awkaf (religious endowments) referred to the publication of the caricature as “irresponsible and offensive”, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reports.

KUNA further quotes the ministry as saying that: “Such an irresponsible act is not conducive to friendly ties between the Islamic world and the west.”

The ministry is also reported to have urged Swedish authorities to apologize for the act and to take measures against newspaper Nerikes Allehanda.

The Prophet Muhammad cartoon in a Swedish paper was “a flagrant assault on the sanctities of more than 1.3 billion Muslims,” said Adel bin Ali Sheddi, head of the Global Programme for Introducing the Prophet of Mercy.

The organization, based in the Saudi capital Riyadh, is affiliated to the Saudi-backed Muslim World League headquartered in Mecca.

A statement on the group’s website and carried by the official SPA news agency urged Muslims to take “practical and wise stands” in support of their prophet while “exercising restraint” in condemning the offensive cartoon.

Sheddi said the organization would soon approach “more than 15,000 important media and academic groups worldwide, including in Sweden,” as part of a drive to explain the prophet’s “real message.”

The Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published a cartoon on August 18th showing Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog to illustrate an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of expression and religion.

Iran and Pakistan both summoned Swedish diplomats to protest against the caricature, which was also condemned by the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

It was published less than two years after cartoons deemed offensive to the Muslim prophet printed in Denmark’s biggest daily sparked anger across the Islamic world, culminating in deadly protests in several countries in early 2006.