Egypt's al-Azhar censures display of anti-Islamic cartoons in Britain
Egypt’s al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, has strongly denounced the display of offensive cartoons against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Britain, which had been earlier republished by the disgraced French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Cairo-based institution’s Observatory for Combating Extremism described the caricatures as a “disgraceful act” which amounts to “hate speech”.
“This is an unjustified provocation of the feelings of nearly two billion Muslims around the world,” it said.
Al-Azhar said it was “saddened” by the incident, stressing its “total rejection” of such behavior.
"They [blasphemous caricatures] have become a clear embodiment of a serious defect in those societies," the statement added.
On March 22, in the British town of Batley, a local grammar school caused major controversy after a teacher showed a blasphemous cartoon of Islam's holy prophet to students during a religious studies class.
Outraged parents of Muslim students began protesting outside the school gates, demanding the school take action against Islamophobia.
Batley Grammar School reacted quickly, suspending the teacher and launching an investigation and apologizing to the parents. However, the British press and politicians have opted to condemn the protesters instead, adding further fuel to the fire.
In September, Charlie Hebdo republished offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.
French President Emmanuel Macron later publicly attacked Islam in defense of the publication of derogatory cartoons.
He made the remarks at a national memorial for a school teacher who was murdered by a teenager of Chechen origin after he showed his students the caricatures of the Prophet (PBUH), earlier published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Macron’s comments angered not only the Muslim community in France, but all Islamic nations, leading to protests and boycott calls.