Merkel to meet Muslim leaders about cartoon row

15th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

15 February 2006, BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she planned to meet Muslim leaders as part of efforts to defuse anger over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

15 February 2006

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she planned to meet Muslim leaders as part of efforts to defuse anger over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Merkel told Stern magazine she was "very encouraged" over public calls for non-violence made by Muslim leaders in Germany.

She did not say when the meeting would take place or whom she planned to invite.

Among cartoons drawing anger was a caricature of the Prophet with a bomb wrapped in his turban which was published by a number of European newspapers. Islamic beliefs ban all depictions of Mohammed - even positive ones.

A new cartoon published last week in Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper showed the Iranian national football team with bombs strapped to their chests.

Iran's team will take part in the June football World Cup being hosted in Germany from June 9 to July 9. Teams from Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are also taking part.

The Tagesspiegel cartoonist, Klaus Stuttmann, has received death threats over the cartoon, media reports said.

"Naturally neither Mr. Stuttmann nor the Tagesspiegel wanted to question the integrity of Iranian football players," said the newspaper in a statement.

But Tagesspiegel publisher Giovanni di Lorenzo added: "This is not about injuring religious feelings ... We are showing Muslims a sensitivity which has for a long time no longer been shown for the Christian church."

Protests over the cartoons did not lead to any massive or violent demonstrations in Germany.

Germany has about 3.5 million Muslims out of a population of 82 million. Turks numbering about 2 million are the country's biggest minority.

DPA

Subject: German news

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