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N Zealand papers reprint Prophet's cartoons

The printing of caricatures of Prophet Mohammad has angered Muslims across the world.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 15:40 IST
United News of India
United News of India

Two New Zealand newspapers on Saturday reprinted cartoons depicting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, which have angered Muslims across the world, saying the decision was based on press freedom.

The cartoons, first published by a Danish newspaper in September, appeared in the Dominion Post and the The Press based in Christchurch, both owned by Australia's Fairfax group.

"It's important for our readers to see what the fuss is about and to make up their own minds. Ours is a secular society based on western ideals of tolerance and open debate, even if that may occasionally offend," said Tim Pankhurst, Dominion Post's editor.

"We do not wish to be deliberately provocative but neither should we allow ourselves to be intimidated," he added.

New Zealand Federation of Islamic Associations president Javed Khan said the decision to publish the cartoons could have "serious repercussions" for New Zealand's economy.

The federation holds the national contract to certify meat slaughtered to traditional Islamic requirements.

"We won't call for a boycott, and we don't want to see one, but news gets around the world pretty quickly," he told the Dominion Post.

New Zealand is the world's biggest exporter of sheep meat, but exports to the West Asia made up only about 4 per cent of total exports in the year to May, 2004, according to the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

Newspapers in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Hungary reprinted the cartoons this week, saying press freedom was more important that the protests and boycotts they have provoked.

However, many Muslims consider any image of Prophet Mohammad to be blasphemous and offensive and the publication has sparked outrage across the Islamic world.

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 15:40 IST