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Another cartoon incurs Malaysian Muslims' ire+
[February 22, 2006]

Another cartoon incurs Malaysian Muslims' ire+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 22_(Kyodo) _ Another cartoon has created a minor storm in Malaysia with several Muslim groups calling for action to be taken against a mainstream newspaper that published it.

The English-language New Straits Times in its Wednesday edition, however, defended its move to publish the syndicated strip "Non Sequitur" that satirizes the recent controversy surrounding cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The cartoon, which appeared in the newspaper's Tuesday edition, showed a street cartoonist doing a sketch on a drawing board with a sign next to him saying "Caricatures of Muhammad while you wait" and a caption saying, "Kevin finally achieves his goal to be the most feared man in the world."

It pokes fun at the cartoons originally published in the Danish newspaper Jylland Posten last September that have outraged Muslims worldwide, sparking violent riots that resulted in several deaths.

Two Malaysian newspapers had already had their publication licenses suspended for reproducing the cartoons.

On Tuesday, several Muslim groups including the opposition Pan Islamic Party (PAS) lodged a police report against the New Straits Times for carrying Miller's cartoon, which they claimed mocked Islam.

"The act of publishing the cartoon could threaten national security as it is defamatory and can weaken national unity," PAS official Salehuddin Ayub was quoted as saying by official news agency Bernama late Tuesday.

The Malaysian Muslim Consumer Association deemed the cartoon as "insulting Islam" and called on the government to take action against the newspaper.

The New Straits Times defended its decision by reproducing Miller's cartoon to accompany an editorial Wednesday in which it asked readers to decide whether the cartoon "transgressed the limits" and "insulted" Islam and the prophet.

"If it has violated all these principles, then the government must hold the NST and its editors accountable...But at the same time, let us ponder the fundamental issue. Do we continue to be a society where a vocal few, with personal vendettas and less than honorable motives, can whip up sentiments and make the innocent guilty?"

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