Church apologises for cartoon publication

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The Independent Online

The Anglican Church in Wales has apologised to Muslims after a cartoon satirising the Prophet Mohammed was printed in its Welsh-language magazine.

The Church in Wales has issued an immediate recall of all copies of the latest edition of Y Llan - meaning Church - following the reproduction of the cartoon.

The drawing - reprinted from the French magazine France Soir - satirises the Prophet Mohammed by depicting him sitting on a heavenly cloud with Buddha and Christian and Muslim deities.

He is being told "Don't complain... we've all been caricatured here."

The cartoon was used to illustrate an article about the shared ancestry of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The Prophet's depiction is banned in Islam and similar images in European papers sparked violent global protests.

Sion Brynach, spokesman for the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: "The Church in Wales is thoroughly investigating how this cartoon came to be reproduced in Y Llan.

"Despite the publication's small circulation, we are concerned about the possibility of causing any offence to the Muslim community in Wales - with whom the Church in Wales has an excellent relationship - as a result of the reproduction of this cartoon."

A letter from the Archbishop has been sent to all subscribers to the magazine requesting that they return all the estimated 400 or so copies.

Dr Morgan has also apologised to the Muslim Council of Wales for any offence caused.

A statement issued by the Church in Wales said the bishops had already " made it clear" that they regretted the publication of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in various European publications and the offence that these have caused the Muslim community.

Saleem Kidwai, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Wales, said Dr Morgan had telephoned him immediately to apologise when he discovered that the cartoon had been published.

He said he had held a meeting with Dr Morgan on Saturday when further apologies were expressed.

"The Archbishop has apologised and we have accepted that apology. I have been given to understand that the magazine has been recalled and an investigation is taking place," he said.

He added that the Muslim Council of Wales enjoyed an "extremely" good relationship with other faith communities, particularly the Jewish and Christian faiths.

International protests over cartoons first published in a Danish paper last autumn escalated after the images were republished in Norway, France, Germany, Italy and Spain earlier this year, despite complaints by ambassadors from Islamic countries.

There were protests at Danish embassies in Europe and the Middle East, while those in Syria and Lebanon were attacked and at least five people died in Afghanistan.

Protesters in Tehran demonstrated anger by burning the Danish flag.

Last month, a Cardiff University student union newspaper was withdrawn after it printed a different cartoon satirising the Prophet.

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