Egypt Seizes German Magazine Over Islam Portrayal

Cairo, Egypt - Egypt ordered the confiscation of a special edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel about Islam on Tuesday that the government says insults the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, Egypt's state news agency MENA said.

Information Minister Anas el-Feki said the decision "comes in the context of defending Islamic values and standing firmly against those who try to insult the prophet, the Islamic faith, and religions generally," MENA reported.

"We are for freedom of the press, but we cannot permit religions to be insulted," MENA quoted Feki as saying.

It said that Feki had ordered copies of the March 25 special edition confiscated because it contained "a number of images and phrases insulting the prophet, peace be upon him."

MENA said that the edition, whose cover it said bore the headline "Allah in the West," included paragraphs quoting a "German orientalist" as saying that Islam called for violence and terrorism.

MENA said that the magazine had also characterized Islam as a Christian sect.

No one at Der Spiegel was immediately available to comment.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, is sensitive to any perceived insults to Islam that could sow popular discontent in its conservative society. Cairo is also home to the al-Azhar mosque, a major seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

Egypt summoned the Danish ambassador to Cairo in February to protest against the reprinting of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers, and banned issues of four Western newspapers because they contained the reprints.

Protests and riots erupted in many Muslim countries in 2006 when the cartoons, one showing the Prophet wearing a turban resembling a bomb, first appeared in a Danish daily. At least 50 people were killed and three Danish embassies attacked in a number of Muslim countries.