Turkish premier criticizes drawings of Prophet Muhammad

Turkey's prime minister has criticized the publication of caricatures of Islam's prophet in European newspapers, calling the images an attack on Muslims' spiritual values and defending his country's restrictions on the press, reports said Friday. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remarks to the French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, during a meeting in Turkey Thursday, the semiofficial Anatolia news agency reported.

"Caricatures of Prophet Muhammad are an attack against our spiritual values," the daily Milliyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as telling the visiting French foreign minister. "There should be a limit of freedom of press."

The caricatures, which were first published in September in Denmark's largest broadsheet, Jyllands-Posten, have sparked widespread anger in the Muslim world, including demonstrations and boycotts of Danish products.

Muslims were offended both because of the cartoons' critical content and because Islam forbids representations of Muhammad out of concern they could lead to idolatry.

Several newspapers around Europe reproduced the drawings this week, mostly as expressions of freedom of the press.

The cartoons included an image of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. "Such attitudes serve the interests of a culture of conflict at a time when we're trying to establish an alliance between civilizations," Erdogan said. "I find it unacceptable,” reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team