Call for global ban on attacks

Cairo - Egypt's top Muslim cleric on Saturday called for an international ban on all forms of attacks against Islam, after a provocative film sparked violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, underlined "the need for an international resolution (banning) any attack on Muslim religious symbols," in a statement addressed to UN leader Ban Ki-moon and published by official news agency MENA.

The resolution should "criminalise attacks on Islamic symbols and on those of other religions, after the violence against those who provoked challenges to world peace and international security," said Tayyeb.

A low-budget film produced in the United States, "Innocence of Muslims," incited a wave of bloody anti-American violence in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and in several other countries.

The imam said it was the UN's responsibility to "protect world peace from any threat or aggression," so that "these dangerous events cannot recur."

He also called on "Egyptians in these trying times (to show) wisdom and restraint," condemning the targeting of innocent people and underlining the need to protect foreign diplomatic missions.

Tens of thousands of people across the Islamic world on Friday staged anti-American protests against the film, which portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

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