Belarus jails Prophet Mohammad cartoon publisher

www.reuters.com - 17 January 2008

BELARUS - Belarus jailed on Friday for three years an editor of an independent newspaper who reproduced cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which first appeared in Denmark in 2005 and caused mass demonstrations across the Muslim world.

The 12 cartoons portraying the founder of Islam, including one showing Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban, outraged Muslims who saw them as blasphemous. More than 50 people died in protests across the world the following year.

Belarussian authorities shut down the "Zgoda" (Consensus) paper in March 2006, around the time when other European journals began reprinting the cartoons. The security service, still known by its Soviet-era name, the KGB, began an investigation after Muslims in the ex-Soviet state complained.

Editor Alexander Sdvizhkov was sentenced to three years in jail in a closed session of the court for incitement of religious and national hatred.

"May God and the holy cross be with us," Sdvizhkov said afterwards. His lawyer said she would appeal.

Muslims constitute about two or three percent of the 10 million residents of the country wedged between Russia and three members of the European Union. The Muslim community had called for (...)

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