The Citizen apologises for Prophet Muhammad cartoon

2015-01-15 11:00

The Citizen today said it had no malicious intent when it published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as seen on the French Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The Citizen yesterday published a photo of the front page of the latest edition of the magazine showing a crying Prophet Muhammad.

In the photo, the prophet is shown holding a placard saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), with the headline “all is forgiven” above his head in French.

“It was an oversight, there were no malicious intents ... it was not meant to offend anybody,” The Citizen’s editor, Steven Motale, said.

“We know that the use of the image of Prophet Muhammad is forbidden in Islam [and] we unreservedly apologise to those we offended.”

Motale said they had received a handful of complaints from readers and had not been pressurised into apologising.

Today, the daily published a front-page apology for offending its readers.

“The Citizen would never intentionally offend anyone’s religious sensibilities, especially in the manner used by Charlie Hebdo magazine, several of whose staff members were murdered in Paris last week,” it said.

“We deplore those killings, as we do any attempt to enforce censorship through violence. We uphold the right to free speech.

“Yesterday, in our continuing coverage of the Charlie Hebdo aftermath, we published an image which caused offence to many Muslim readers. We regret this oversight. We apologise to all who were offended.”

Afrikaans daily Beeld also published the image in yesterday’s edition and today published a photo of Charlie Hebdo on a newsstand in France.

The magazine’s surviving staff yesterday put out an unprecedented three million copies, which were quick to leave the shelves, news agency Associated Press reported.

“Disappointed buyers were told to come back today, when more of the increased print run of 5 million copies will be available,” it said.

Last week Wednesday, two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi – reportedly linked to al-Qaeda – were named as those who staged the attack at the magazine’s Paris offices.

Twelve people, including the editor and three cartoonists, other magazine staffers and two policemen were gunned down.

The al-Qaeda branch in Yemen has reportedly claimed responsibility for the Hebdo attack as retaliation for the magazine’s frequent satirical portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad.

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