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Islamic body slams French Mohammed cartoons

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which were published in a French satirical magazine. Protests have broken out in Afghanistan and Iran over the drawings.

OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed "shock and dismay" over the provocative cartoons published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, warning that the drawings could "further exacerbate ongoing turmoil and violence created by the anti-Islam film."

Protests broke out across the Muslim world last week, over a film produced in California called "Innocence of Muslims," which depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a violent womanizer. At least 30 people died in the ensuing upheaval, including the US ambassador to Libya.

On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo published graphic nude cartoons of Mohammed on the two inside pages and back page of the weekly. The cartoons reference the Innocence of Muslims film, depicting the Prophet in a compromising position while saying that a "star is born." Under Islamic law, it is forbidden create images of Mohammed.

"The French weekly should pay head to the concerns of the international community on incitement and intolerance of religious beliefs," said Ihsanoglu, calling on the "leadership of the world and all stakeholders to take a united stand against fanatics and radicals."

The Arab League Secretary-General, Nabil Elaraby, denounced the drawings as outrageous, but called on those offended to "use peaceful means to express their firm rejection."

Protests in Afghanistan, Iran

France announced that it would shutdown schools, cultural centers and embassies in some 20 countries as a precautionary measure on Friday, when protests in the Muslim world usually occur after the weekly prayer.

In Afghanistan, hundreds of demonstrators on Thursday marched through the streets of the capital, Kabul, condemning the cartoons and the anti-Islam film.

"We came here to protest against cartoons of our beloved prophet Mohammed and an anti-Islam movie by Western media," said Ahmad Zia Rahimzai, a spokesman for the group that organized the protest, Afghan Society for Social Reforms and Development. 

"Neither (the) US nor French governments have prevented desecration to the Muslim world," he added.

In Tehran, up to one hundred protesters gathered outside of the French embassy. The Fars news agency reported that a large number of police prevented the crowd from breaching the embassy, which was closed due to the demonstration.

slk/sej (AFP, dpa, Reuters)