Authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday ordered the arrest of a cartoonist and confiscated copies of a major newspaper's weekly supplement for publishing a "blasphemous" caricature.
"The government has confiscated the issue as the c-artoon hurt the religious sentiments of the people. Moreover, an order was issued to arrest cartoonist Arifur Rahman," an official statement said, referring to the weekly caricature supplement Alpin of the Prothom Alo newspaper.
The mass-circulated daily, however, immediately apologised and announced withdrawal of the cartoon.
A group of people torched copies of the paper after publication of the cartoon on Monday and several Islamic groups protested, saying the drawings ridiculed Prophet Mohammad and his close aides.
They demanded "exemplary punishment" of the paper's editor and the cartoonist.
Predominantly, Muslim Bangladesh, however, does not have any blasphemy law although it was earlier demanded by the extreme right-wing Islamic groups.
The government said it decided to hold talks with religious leaders on the matter and also urged restrain from the people.
"The government expects all concerned to show restrain and play a responsible role in regard to the unexpected incident," the statement said.
Prothom Alo sources said security forces summoned the cartoonist but it was not yet clear if he has been formally arrested.