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Muhammad cartoons prompt charges in Belarus as Canada press cleared

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Belarus newspaper Zgoda has been criminally charged for reprinting cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive] that have sparked violent protests across the Muslim world. The Belarus State Security Committee [official website, in Russian], still known as the KGB, has cited Zgoda for breach of Part 1, Article 130 of the Belarussian Criminal Code, which prohibits the incitement of 'racial, ethnic, and religious hatred'. The newspaper was investigated after complaints from the country's Muslim community. MosNews has more.

In Canada, however, Crown prosecutors in the western province of Alberta Wednesday declined to press hate crimes charges against two papers for reprinting the cartoons there. A spokesman said that the intent of the republications in the Calgary-based Western Standard [media website] and Jewish Free Press [JCN report] was to promote debate, not incite hatred. The head of Canada's Islamic Supreme Council [advocacy website], which has also filed complaints [ISCC press release; JURIST report] with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission [official website], has expressed disappointment with the decision. The Toronto Globe & Mail has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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