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Lawsuit over naked Prophet cartoons

Paris -

Two French Muslim groups have filed a lawsuit for inciting racial hatred and slander against a French satirical weekly that published cartoons of a naked Prophet Mohammed, the paper's lawyer said Friday.

Publishing director of the satyric weekly Charlie Hebdo, Charb, displays the front page of the newspaper as he poses for photographers in Paris. Credit: AP

Charlie Hebdo published the cartoons in September as often violent - and sometimes deadly - protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film made in the United States that insults the prophet.

The Algerian Democratic Rally for Peace and Progress (RDAP) and its offshoot the United Arab Organisation (OAU), which both state that their goal is “the defence and support of Muslim and/or Arab people”, are seeking damages of 580 000 euros ($750 000).

Their suit targets the publication, its director and two cartoonists.

Two other groups have already filed suits against Charlie Hebdo over the same series of cartoons. The most recent suits say they besmirched the honour of the prophet and of Muslims.

“Yet again, they are trying to scare us to prevent us continuing this French humoristic tradition regarding religion,” said the weekly's lawyer Richard Malka.

In 2008, the then-director of Charlie Hebdo, Philippe Val, was cleared after French Muslim groups took him to court accusing him of having insulted Islam by publishing cartoons of the prophet.

An appeals court in Paris ruled that he had not insulted Muslims because the cartoons were aimed clearly at Islamist extremists and not the Muslim community as a whole.

In November 2011 Charlie Hebdo caused further offence when it published an edition “guest-edited” by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia (Islamic law) Hebdo. The magazine's offices in Paris were subsequently fire-bombed. - Sapa-AFP

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