Thousands march against Muhammad cartoons

About 5,000 people in Serbia's southwestern town of Novi Pazar on Friday took part in a peaceful protest against cartoons depicting Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Izvor: B92, Tanjug

Novi Pazar is the largest town in the Raska District, also known informally as Sandzak, that is home to a large Muslim minority.

The protesters said they gathered in order to point out that their religious sentiment should also be respected.

They marched and carried a banner that read, "Muhammad," and shouted, "Allah is one".

After the march ended, Imam Irfan Malic from the Islamic Community in Serbia addressed the protesters to say they had peacefully and in a dignified manner expressed their obedience and love toward prophet Muhammad.

He said that what journalists of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo did "speaks more about them," and described the modern civilization as undergoing "a moral collapse, a moral and religious crisis."

"We do not touch what is holy to other people, we respect Jesus, Moses, and all other envoys of God," Malic said, stressing that "Muslim believers in Sandzak felt a moral obligation to go out today and say that every one of them would give their life for Muhammad."

Malic described the Paris killings as "an assassination" rather than a terrorist attack.

"Muslims are not terrorists and Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, we are against any form of terror, while those who commissioned the cartoons are to blame for the Paris assassination, because they insulted 1.5 billion Muslims," the imam was quoted as saying, and adding:

"If one, two, or three react to that, they should be judged if they are guilty."

"Do not blame Islam and all Muslims," he added.

The gathering, that lasted about an hour and a half, also sent a message that "the more their prophet is used in such a context, the stronger Islam will be."

Earlier, Mufti of Serbia Muhamed Jusufspahic - of the Islamic Community of Serbia, one of the country's two rival Muslim organizations - condemned the activities of the Islamic State in a strongly-worded statement.


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