April 24, 2006

Prophet cartoon offenders must be killed -bin Laden

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has
called for people who ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad to be
killed, weighing into the furor that erupted after a Danish
newspaper ran cartoons lampooning Islam's holy messenger.

"Heretics and atheists, who denigrate religion and
transgress against God and His Prophet, will not stop their
enmity toward Islam except by being killed," the Saudi-born
militant said.

Bin Laden's remarks were part of an audio tape which Al
Jazeera television aired excerpts from on Sunday. The
television station later published a full transcript on its Web

The Doha-based satellite television channel had aired
excerpts of the tape in which bin Laden accused the West of
waging a "Crusader-Zionist" war against Islam, citing the
isolation of the Hamas-led Palestinian government and the
crisis in Sudan's Darfur region as examples.

Anger over the cartoons, which a Danish newspaper first
published last year, outraged Muslims who consider drawings of
the Prophet to be blasphemous.

The caricatures, which were reprinted in several Arab and
European newspapers, sparked violent protests in which more
than 50 people were killed. Consumers in Muslim countries have
also boycotted Danish goods.

Denmark's government has refused to apologize for the
cartoons, saying it cannot say sorry on behalf of a free and
independent media and that freedom of speech is sacred.

"The insistence of the Danish government to refrain from
apologizing and its refusal to punish the criminals and take
action to prevent this crime from being repeated... shows that
the notions of freedom of speech have no roots, especially when
it comes to Muslims," bin Laden said in the tape.