CAIRO – Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, has warned that new cartoons published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will only serve to "stir up hatred".
The drawings "do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies," the Cairo-based body's Islamic research centre added in a statement.
The latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine that is to go on sale on Wednesday features a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and mocks the Islamist gunmen who murdered many of its staff last week.
Al-Azhar was among the first Muslim groups to condemn last Wednesday's attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo by Islamist gunmen who killed 12 people, including five cartoonists.
At the time, it condemned the "criminal attack" and said "Islam denounces any violence." Earlier on Tuesday, however, Egypt's state-sponsored Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, denounced as a provocation the new cartoons in Charlie Hebdo.
"This action is an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims," it said.
"This (magazine) edition will result in a new wave of hatred in French and Western society. What the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence and the cultural dialogue Muslims aspire to."
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo returns to newsstands with a record run on Wednesday.
The front cover shows a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign that says "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"), the slogan taken up by millions of supporters around the world after 12 people were gunned down in an attack on the magazine's Paris offices.
France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, was shaken to the core last week when jihadists took to Paris's streets in an Islamist killing spree that left 17 people dead in the country's bloodiest week in decades. — AFP