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Palestinian newspaper runs apparent Muhammad cartoon

By Andrew V. Pestano
Palestinian newspaper runs apparent Muhammad cartoon
The newspaper's front page for Feb. 4, 2015. Photo courtesy Al-Hayat al-Jadida

GAZA, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into the alleged publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad by a Palestinian newspaper.

The newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, issued an apology and suspended the cartoonist and the paper's editor in chief for running the image on Sunday.

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The cartoon is of a robed figure with a halo standing over the Earth with a caption that reads "Our Prophet Muhammad."

The cartoonist, Muhammad Sabaaneh, said the cartoon was not of the Prophet Muhammad, but of a "symbol for humanity." The newspaper said the intent of the cartoon was "to defend the role of Islam in spreading the message of love and peace."

Sabaaneh has been detained by Israeli authorities before in connection with his cartoons.

Abbas said the cartoon's publication was a "grave mistake."

Most Muslims view any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous and offensive, regardless of intent.

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The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine -- itself a consistent publisher of religious cartoons, including depictions of the Prophet Muhammad -- in France last month sparked a worldwide debate about freedom of speech and of the press.

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