Bernama : Top NST Editors Summoned By Ministry To Explain

Top NST Editors Summoned By Ministry To Explain Publication Of Cartoon
February 22, 2006 21:52 PM

JITRA, Feb 22 (Bernama) – The editor-in-chief and group editor of New Straits Times (NST) were summoned by the Internal Security Ministry, Wednesday to explain the publication of a cartoon regarded as mocking Prophet Muhammad in the newspaper.

Deputy Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom, who disclosed this, said officers of the ministry would submit a report based on the editors’ explanation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is also the Internal Security Minister.

Any action to be taken against NST would be decided by the Prime Minister, he told reporters after presenting government aid to 92 farmers who suffered losses in the floods last December.

He said the recommendations of the ministry’s officers might be made known Thursday.

The Prime Minister is expected to return home tonight from a two-day visit to Western Australia.

Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said in Kuala Lumpur that the Cabinet at its meeting today made a decision on the matter which would be announced by the Prime Minister.

The NST Wednesday reproduced a syndicated cartoon, which was first published in its Monday edition related to the recent publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad by western newspapers which angered Muslims around the world.

Accompanying the cartoon today was an editorial defending the newspaper’s action yesterday in publishing the cartoon which showed a cartoonist doing a sketch on a drawing board while waiting for customers. Beside him is a notice bearing the words: “Caricatures of Muhammad while you wait!”

Several organisations, including PAS, have lodged police reports against the NST.

Johari said action could be taken against NST if the government was not satisfied with its explanation in twice publishing the cartoon.

At the distribution of aid, each farmer who owned less than a hectare of padi field received RM1,000 while those with one hectare or more were given RM1,800 each for one hectare and RM530 for each additional hectare.