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French Editor Reported Fired Over Prophet Cartoons

Palestinians in Gaza City protesting on 31 January against the cartoons (epa) 2 February 2006 -- The editor of a French newspaper that reprinted controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has reportedly been fired.

The AFP and dpa news agencies quoted a statement from the owner of the "France Soir" newspaper, Raymond Lakah, as saying Managing Director Jacques Lefrance was removed from his post to demonstrate respect for the "intimate beliefs" of every individual.

The owner's statement said the newspaper expressed regret over the incident to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication of the Muhammad caricatures.

The newspaper says it published the cartoons to defend freedom of expression in a democratic and secular society.

The cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper, have triggered protests from the governments of Muslim countries and other organizations. Islam forbids images of the Prophet, and Muslims say the cartoons are an insult.

In addition to France and Denmark, the caricatures have also been reproduced in publications in Norway, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

(AFP, dpa)

Clash Of Cultures

Clash Of Cultures

Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie (epa file photo)

The furor raised by the publication in Europe of cartoons believed by many Muslims to be insulting to Islam is far from being the first time that Western notions of freedom of expression have clashed with Islamic sensibilities. Below are a few of the major incidents in this long-running tension.

2005: London's Tate Britain museum removes from exhibition the "God Is Great #2" sculpture by John Latham for fear of offending Muslims, citing the "sensitive climate" after 7 July suicide bombings in London. The sculpture piece consists of three sacred religious texts -- the Koran, the Bible, and the Talmud -- embedded in a sheet of glass.

2004: Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh is murdered after release of his film "Submission" about violence against women in Islamic societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born member of Dutch parliament who wrote script, plans another film about Islam's attitude to gays. She has also received death threats.

2002: Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel incenses Muslims by writing in "This Day" newspaper that Prophet Muhammad would have approved of the "Miss World" contest and might have wed a beauty queen. Muslim-Christian riots in northern city of Kaduna kill 200. Daniel flees Nigeria after a fatwa urges Muslims to kill her.

1995: An Egyptian court brands academic Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid an apostate because of his writings on Islam and annuls his marriage on grounds that a Muslim may not be married to an apostate. Abu Zaid and his wife move to the Netherlands.

1994: Taslima Nasreen flees Bangladesh for Sweden after court charges her with "maliciously hurting Muslim religious sentiments." Some Muslims demand she be killed for her book "Lajja" (Shame), banned for blasphemy and suggesting free sex.

1989: Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calls on all Muslims to kill British author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy against Islam in his book "The Satanic Verses."

(compiled by RFE/RL)

See also:

Dutch Immigration -- The Death Of Multiculturalism

Report Says No Anti-Muslim Backlash In Europe

Vienna Conference Ends With Appeals For Understanding, Tolerance

A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.