Malaysia newspaper to shut down for reprinting prophet cartoons

A Malaysian newspaper was likely to be shut down temporarily, an executive said Thursday, after facing government ire for reprinting a Danish cartoon of Prophet Muhammad that has angered Muslims around the world.

The Sarawak Press newspaper group has faced heavy public criticism in the mostly Muslim country despite apologizing for what it called an editorial oversight that led to the publication of the caricature in its newspaper Sarawak Tribune on Saturday.

Sarawak Press executive director Polit Hamzah said the group expects a suspension notice for the Tribune soon from the Internal Security Ministry, which handles printing permits for media outlets.

Malaysia's newspapers operate under government licenses that must be renewed yearly and restrict them from publishing potentially provocative material on topics including religion and race.

"We may not have publication of the newspaper by tomorrow," Hamzah said by telephone.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who heads the security ministry, warned earlier this week that action would be taken if Sarawak Press fails to provide a satisfactory explanation of why it published the caricature. Abdullah's aides said it was not immediately clear when a decision would be announced, reports the AP.

I.L.