7 Feb 2006

Muslim anger in Fiji after a local newspaper publishes cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed

9:24 pm on 7 February 2006

The worldwide Muslim protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has spread to Fiji following their publication in the country by the Daily Post newspaper.

Two Muslim religious organisations, the Fiji Muslim League and the Ahmediya Muslim Jama'at of Fiji, have condemned the Post and questioned its sense of responsibility.

The two organisations say their members are shocked and dismayed at the publication of the highly objectionable cartoons in the name of the freedom of the press.

They say they have taken up the issue with the minister for information, Marieta Rigamoto, who has assured them a statement would be issued.

The Muslim Jama'at has also called on the editor of the Daily Post to resign, failing which the newspaper's management should sack her.

The general manager of the Daily Post, Mesake Koroi, has defended the decision to publish, saying while the newspaper respects Islam, it wanted its readers to see the cartoons that caused the worldwide protests.

But the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says the publication of the cartoons has served no purpose.

Mr Qarase says it has only aggrieved Fiji's Muslim community and insulted and ridiculed their religion.

Mr Qarase has urged the public to avoid causing unnecessary hurt to those whose beliefs and faiths are different, and called on the media to be responsible.