Outraged Muslims on Monday demanded an Australian newspaper apologize after it published one of a series of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have sparked angry protests around the world.
The News Corp.-owned Courier-Mail, the biggest newspaper in the Queensland state capital Brisbane, apparently became the first newspaper in Australia to publish one of the Danish caricatures on Saturday despite warnings from Muslim groups.
But the low-key cartoon that illustrated an article on page 17 about an attack on the Danish embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, by angry Muslims did not catch national attention until Monday.
The Islamic Council of Queensland president Abdul Jalal said the paper should apologize to the state's Muslims. "I was hoping, praying that our media people would have more ... sense, in not trying to agitate the situation in the local scene here in Australia," Jalal told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Kuranda Seyit, director of the advocacy group Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations, said Muslim leaders would consider holding protest rallies.
He would also consider complaining to the media's self-regulator, the Australian Press Council.
Courier-Mail editor David Fagan declined to comment. The caricatures of the prophet, condemned by Muslims as blasphemous, have sparked protests by Muslims around the world, including rampages over the weekend in Syria and Lebanon where demonstrators attacked Danish diplomatic missions.
Australia's top Muslim organization, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, is planning to ask the federal government to ban the pictures' publication. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock called on the media to act responsibly, but stopped short of condemning the cartoons' publication.
"People still have an obligation to act responsibly and they need to be conscious ... that one doesn't do it gratuitously with a view to trying to provoke a response, but has in mind how these matters might be seen by others," Ruddock told reporters.
Opposition Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd urged the media not to be intimidated by militant Islamists in deciding whether to reproduce the images.
"We should not be kowtowing to anybody when it comes to freedom in this country," Rudd told reporters, reports the AP.
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