Media publishing cartoons on Prophets to be closed - activist

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MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Muslim rights activists are ready to demand that Russian publishing houses be shut down if they publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, a member of the Russian Public Chamber said Wednesday.

"We have information on the publication of [religious] cartoons," said Kamilzhan Kalandarov, the head of the all-Russia public Islamic organization Al-Khak (Justice). "We will be pushing for the revocation of this newspaper's license."

Kalandarov also expressed indignation over cartoons published in an Azerbaijani weekly depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Russia's media and culture watchdog, the Federal Service for the Oversight of Legislation in Mass Communications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage, pledged earlier Wednesday to take tough measures against any publications in the country that insulted religious beliefs.

The service took a tough stand against the backdrop of a wave of protests that have engulfed the Muslim world after satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper September 30 and then reprinted by other media earlier this year.

Many Russian politicians and public figures, including President Vladimir Putin, have condemned the caricatures, while the spiritual leader of Russia's 20 million Muslims, Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, has called for peace in the wake of worldwide disturbances.

Depictions of Mohammed are explicitly prohibited by Islamic law. Muslims in many countries took to the streets in protest against the publications, which led to the ransacking of Danish and other Western embassies. Danish and Norwegian peacekeepers were also attacked in Afghanistan.

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