CAIRO (AP) — One of Egypt's top Islamic authorities on Tuesday warned the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo against publishing a new cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of its first issue since Islamic extremists killed 12 people at its offices, saying the image would only provoke Muslims.
The French newspaper Liberation published the cover online late Monday night, ahead of Charlie Hebdo's publication. The cartoon shows a bearded man in a white turban with a tear streaming down his cheek, and holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"). Overhead is the phrase: "Tout est Pardonne" ("All is Forgiven"), which French media interpreted as meaning Muhammad is forgiving the cartoonists for lampooning him.
Charlie Hebdo is scheduled to distribute 1 million copies of its new issue in numerous languages.
But Egypt's Dar al-Ifta, which is in charge of issuing religious edicts, called the planned cover an "unjustified provocation" for millions of Muslims who respect and love their prophet. It said the cartoon is likely to cause a new wave of hatred in French and Western societies.
It called on French authorities and political parties to denounce the publication of the new cartoon, calling it a "racist act" by a magazine that seeks to "ignite religious sedition and sectarianism and deepen hatred." Most Muslims consider it forbidden to depict Muhammad or other prophets.
Dar al-Ifta and the Sunni world's most prestigious institute, Al-Azhar, had earlier condemned the Paris attacks, saying violence in the name of religion is unacceptable. On Tuesday, Dar al-Ifta denounced attacks on mosques and Muslims in France following last week's terrorist attacks, saying such violence will give "extremists from both sides a chance to exchange violence, which will only affect innocents."
Charlie Hebdo routinely sparks controversy by publishing gritty cartoons lampooning religious and political figures. It has invoked freedom of speech to defend the publication of images that many consider deeply offensive.
The attack on the magazine's offices and subsequent violence left 17 people dead, in the worst attack in France in decades.