Swedish Muslim group plans to sue newspaper for Prophet Muhammad drawing

Stockholm, Sweden - A Swedish Muslim group on Tuesday said it plans to sue a local newspaper for publishing a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body.

The Nerikes Allehanda newspaper in Orebro printed the cartoon made by artist Lars Vilks in an Aug. 19 editorial that criticized Swedish art galleries for not displaying Vilks' art.

Mahmoud Aldebe, chairman of the Swedish Muslim Federation, said the group would sue the newspaper for inciting hatred against ethnic groups.

"It ridicules our religion. This is discriminating and insulting for us," he said. "They want to see just how far they are able to go by pushing the boundaries of press freedom."

Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Iran and Pakistan have protested the drawings and about 300 Swedish Muslims demonstrated Friday outside the paper's office in Orebro, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Stockholm.

To sue the newspaper, the group needs to file a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice, who is the only institution in Sweden permitted to prosecute media in cases related to freedom of expression and media libel cases.

Overnight Tuesday, about 200 Nerikes Allehanda newspapers stacked up for delivery were set on fire in an Orebro suburb, but it was not immediately clear whether it had anything to do with the cartoon, police said.

Last year, violent protests broke out in Muslim countries after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, including one that depicted him wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.

Aldebe, of the Swedish Muslim Federation, said his group did not support any acts of vandalism and that it had told its members to refrain from violent protests.