Sat, Feb 18, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Russian city shuts down newspaper over cartoon

AP , MOSCOW

The government of the southern Russian city of Volgograd is shutting down a newspaper that published a cartoon portraying Jesus, Moses, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed condemning racism, the municipal administration said yesterday.

The mayor said his order to close the City News paper was intended ``to prevent incitement of enmity on religious national and social grounds, and also to stop the abuse of media freedom,'' according to an administration statement.

The drawing illustrated an article titled ``Racists Can't Be in the Government'' and depicted Jesus, Moses, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed watching TV.

EDITOR'S DEFENSE

City News editor Tatyana Kaminskaya said earlier this week that the TV screen showed two groups of people about to start a fist fight, and the drawing was accompanied by a caption that reads, ``We did not teach you that.''

She said the paper's cartoon could not have caused offense and said none of the city's religious communities had filed a complaint.

LIQUIDATION

The government ordered officials to liquidate the paper within a month.

Demonstrations broke out in Muslim countries after newspapers in several European countries reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that were first published in Denmark last September.

Islamic tradition frowns on any depiction of Mohammed, and the satiric nature of some of the Danish cartoons -- such as one showing Mohammed's turban as a bomb -- further inflamed some Muslims.

No Russian newspapers have reprinted the Danish cartoons.

Muslims make up the second-largest faith in Russia after Orthodox Christians, numbering an estimated 20 million or nearly 14 percent of the population.

Russia also has a substantial Jewish community and a smaller number of Buddhists.

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