By Arab News
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has warned that cartoons denigrating Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) published in France could trigger a new wave of anti-Western violence but urged Muslims all over the world to show restraint.
In a statement, OIC Secretary-General 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’ overseas missions and cultural centers 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 danger to peace, security and stability in the region as well as the global context.”
He 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 Friday for fear of retaliatory attacks following weekly prayers.
In a similar statement, Muslim World League Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Turki urged governments and international organizations to take legal action against blasphemous actions such as films and cartoons denigrating the Prophet.
Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz.
Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).