Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad bin Amin Madani speaks at a news conference in Najaf, south of Baghdad, on Jan. 14. Photo credit: Reuters
Cairo, Egypt – The world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries has announced plans to sue Charlie Hebdo over the publication of new cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), amid increasing anger among Muslims worldwide.
“OIC is studying Europe and French laws and other available procedures to be able to take legal action against Charlie Hebdo,” Iyad Madani, the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), told a Saudi newspaper.
“If French laws allow us to take legal procedures against Charlie Hebdo, OIC will not hesitate to prosecute the French magazine.”
In its “survivals” edition, Charlie Hebdo magazine featured a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on the cover.
The cover depicts Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) with a tear falling from his cheek, holding a sign that says, “Je suis Charlie” under the headline, “All Is Forgiven.”
The edition followed widespread condemnations from Muslim countries and organizations to the attack on Charlie Hebdo attack, rejecting it as a betrayal of Islamic faith.
On his personal Twitter feed, Madani added: “These cartoons have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world.
“Freedom of speech must not become a hate speech and must not offend others.
No sane person, irrespective of doctrine, religion or faith, accepts his beliefs being ridiculed,” he said.
Muslims have been campaigning to obtain a ban on insults against religions and prophets.
Since 1999, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has annually sponsored a defamation of religions resolution in the UN Human Rights Council.
The OIC has pressed the UN to adopt a binding international covenant against the defamation of religions.
In 2009, the UN Council adopted a non-binding resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, condemning religious defamation and calling for respect of all faiths.
Yet in March 2011, the OIC approved, under heavy pressure from the US, to set aside its 12-year campaign to have religions protected from defamation.
The OIC decision was followed by an approval from the UN Human Rights Council on a broader plan on religious tolerance.
The OIC announcement followed major protest against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons around the world.
In Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani condemned Charlie Hebdo, calling the newest cover image of Mohamed (s) a blasphemous and irresponsible act.
“Freedom of expression should be used in a way to boost understanding between the religions,” he said in a statement issued by the presidential palace.
Iraq’s prime minister, Haider Abadi, also issued a statement of condemnation, warning that “offensive words might lead to further bloodshed.”
He also reiterated his condemnation of the attacks on innocent victims in Paris, saying that terrorism, “has nothing to do with Islam in any way.”
In Algiers, the Pakistani city of Karachi and the Yemeni capital Sanaa, protesters and police clashed outside their respective French embassies.
In Egypt, the Islamist Noor Party denounced the latest Charlie Hebdo cover on its French-language Facebook page.
“Just as the Noor Party rejects the assault on civilians and the negative effects it has for all Muslims of Europe, it also rejects this barbaric, irresponsible act under the name of freedom of expression,” the statement declared.
In Gaza, vandals scrawled graffiti on the walls of the French Cultural Centre.
Charlie Hebdo has a long reputation for being provocative.
In September 2012, the French weekly published cartoons displaying a naked man said to be the Prophet (s).
In 2011, the office of the magazine was firebombed after it published an edition “guest-edited by Muhammad,” which the satirical weekly called, Shari`ah Hebdo.
Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad sparked another international crisis in 2005, when a Danish daily published 12 drawings of a man said to be the Prophet (s).
The abusive cartoons have strained Muslim-West ties and triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world.
Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims in Denmark and worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.
Editor’s Note: This report originally appeared on OnIslam.net and is reprinted here with permission.