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Watchdog asks Russian media to refrain from publishing cartoons on religious themes

January 16, 2015, 17:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Such caricatures might be classified as a serious violation of Russian law that leads to incitement of ethnic and religious strife, the media watchdog said
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© ITAR-TASS/Grigory Tambulov

MOSCOW, January 16 /TASS/. The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has asked Russian media outlets on Friday to refrain from publishing cartoons related to religious themes and warned the distribution of such caricatures might be classified as a serious violation of Russian law that leads to incitement of ethnic and religious strife.

“The publication of such caricatures in the Russian media contradicts the ethical and moral principles that have been established over centuries of joint habitation in one territory by representatives of various peoples and religious confessions,” Roskomnadzor, a federal executive body responsible for overseeing the media, explained on its website. Roskomnadzor said that in 2006 prosecutors and media supervisory bodies banned Russian media outlets from reprinting the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. In 2008, the Moscow-based office of the Newsweek magazine received an official written warning for publishing the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

The recommendations came in the wake of last week’s armed terrorist attack in France. Armed Islamists attacked the office of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2014 after it had printed a caricature of Prophet Muhammad. The attack claimed the lives of 12 people, including ten journalists and two policemen who had guarded the building. Another 11 people were wounded.

The weekly, however, continues publishing satirical pictures on religious themes. The new edition that came out on January 14 had fresh cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

On January 14, a St. Petersburg deputy, Vitaly Milonov, asked Roskomnadzor to blacklist the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo as extremist literature banned in Russia.

In his letter to Roskomnadzor’s Chief Alexander Zhukov, deputy Milonov wrote that the magazine was inciting inter-religious strife.

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