French editor fired over Prophet cartoon

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The Independent Online

The managing editor of a French daily that republished caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed has been fired, the paper said today, as debate over the drawings mounted among French Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The drawings, which first ran in a Danish paper in September and have riled the Muslim world, were reprinted yesterday in France Soir and several other European papers rallying to defend freedom of expression.

The managing editor of France Soir, Jacques Lefranc, was fired after the publication by owner Raymond Lakah, an Egyptian magnate, employees of the paper said today. No reason for the decision was immediately announced.

Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet to prevent idolatry. The drawings have prompted boycotts of Danish goods and bomb threats and demonstrations against Danish facilities, and have divided opinion within Europe and the Middle East.

The cartoons include an image of Mohamed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse, and another portraying him holding a sword, his eyes covered by a black rectangle.

The front page of France Soir yesterday carried the headline "Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God" and a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud.

The publication drew a stern reaction from the French Foreign Ministry. While it said that freedom of expression is dear to France, the ministry "condemns all that hurts individuals in their beliefs or their religious convictions." The issue is sensitive in France, home to Western Europe's largest Muslim community with an estimated 5 million people.

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