Middle East

Palestinian paper apologises over 'Muhammad cartoon'

Mr Sabanneh at his offices, 13 January 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The cartoonist said the drawing was meant to represent what the Prophet had brought humanity

An official Palestinian newspaper has apologised to its readers for publishing a drawing that is alleged to have depicted the Prophet Muhammad.

The Palestinian Authority's Al-Hayat-al-Jadida also denied that the drawing - of a robed figure standing over the Earth - represented the Prophet.

Most Muslims view any depictions of the Prophet as forbidden - and offensive.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an inquiry into the publication of the cartoon.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said Mr Abbas had called for "deterrent action against those responsible for this terrible mistake".

Mr Abbas was among the world leaders who attended a rally in Paris last month to condemn a deadly gun attack on the offices of a satirical magazine that had caricatured Muhammad.

The gunmen - both of whom had links to jihadist militants - killed prominent journalists at the Charlie Hebdo magazine, in apparent retaliation for the caricatures.

The attack sparked a global debate over freedom of expression and its limits.

Al-Hayat-al-Jadida published a drawing in its 1 February edition that featured a robed figure standing over the Earth, scattering seeds from a heart-shaped bag. The caption to the drawing said, "Our Prophet Muhammad".

The cartoonist, Mohammed Sabanneh, later wrote on his Facebook page that he had not meant any harm by the drawing, Reuters news agency reported.

Mr Sabanneh said the robed figure did not represent the Prophet but was "a symbol of humanity enlightened by what the Prophet Muhammad brought".

Along with its apology, the West Bank-based newspaper announced that it had launched an inquiry into "the published drawing that led to the misunderstanding".

The paper emphasised that the "the intention behind the publication of the image was to defend religions and to spread love and peace".

More on this story