February 3, 2006

Spain’s El Pais prints front page Mohammad cartoon

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's leading newspaper El Pais on
Friday became part of a growing international row by publishing
a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on its front page.

The cartoon, originally published by France's Le Monde,
portrayed the head of the Prophet Mohammad made up of lines
which say "I must not draw Mohammad" in French.

Newspapers in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and
Hungary have reprinted caricatures originally published in
Denmark, arguing that press freedom is more important than the
protests and boycotts they have provoked.

Muslims consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous.

El Pais editors were not immediately available to comment
on the decision to publish the cartoon on its front page.

On Thursday, a dozen Palestinian gunmen surrounded European
Union offices in the Gaza Strip demanding an apology for the
Danish cartoons, one of which showed Islam's founder wearing a
bomb-shaped turban.

Afghanistan has condemned the publication of the
caricatures and about 400 Islamic students set fire to French
and Danish flags in protest in the city of Multan in central

The owner of France Soir, a Paris daily that reprinted the
cartoons on Wednesday along with a German paper, sacked its
managing editor to show "a strong sign of respect for the
beliefs and intimate convictions of every individual."

But the tabloid defended its right to print the cartoons,
first published last September in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.