Muhammad cartoon shows up in Czech city

Government condemns appearance of large reproductions of Muhammad caricatures in Brno.

muhammad cartoon 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
muhammad cartoon 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Several dozen posters containing a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban turned up on the streets of the Czech Republic's second largest city, and the government condemned them on Wednesday. "Prophet Muhammad did not know any bombs during his time," Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said. "This is sheer mockery. Such posters are for me ... a sign of the intolerance and aggressiveness of those who devised them." In a statement, the ministry condemned all actions aimed at inciting religious, racial or ethnic hatred. The drawing is one of 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper that enraged many Muslims in early 2006, sparking deadly riots around the world. Still, leading Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoon showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban on Feb. 13 to show their commitment to freedom of speech, one a day after police uncovered a plot to kill the artist who drew it. The reprint in the papers sparked smaller protests in several predominantly Muslim countries. In downtown Brno, 200 kilometers southeast of Prague, the Prophet Muhammad posters turned up early Wednesday, and apparently had been hung up the night before. They reportedly were signed by an unknown group named Friends of Freedom of Speech. Brno's Islamic community did not plan protests, said Muneeb Hassan Alrawi, head of the Islamic Foundation, which is in charge of the local mosque. Alrawi called the posters "deplorable" and said they were meant "to provoke Muslims." "We don't plan to make them happy by protesting," Alrawi said of the people behind the posters. He said local Muslims may react by launching a campaign to explain Islam. Some 150 Muslims regularly worship at the mosque, which was opened 10 years ago as the first in the Czech Republic, Alrawi said in a telephone interview. Authorities removed the posters Wednesday, the CTK news agency reported from Brno. It was not clear who put them up, and local police were investigating if that violated the law, police spokeswoman Andrea Prochazkova said. "This has nothing to do with freedom of speech," Schwarzenberg said.