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International12 January 2007

Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey ban issue of French history magazine on fundamentalism

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the bans imposed since the start of the month by Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey on the latest issue of the French bimonthly magazine Historia Thématique, which is about fundamentalism and has as its subhead, “The major religions confront their old demons.”

“The banning of a publication for the sole reason that it is liable to shock the religious sensibilities of some people or even the majority of the population is an archaic practice which we can only condemn energetically,” the press freedom organisation said.

The Tunisian authorities announced their ban on 10 January, saying it was due to a picture showing the Prophet Mohammed, which is “formally forbidden in Islam and could offend the religious feelings of Tunisians.” The picture in fact comes from an illustrated copy of the Koran dating from 1583 that is in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul.

The January issue of Historia, a monthly produced by the same publishing house, has been on sale without any problem although it has an illustration showing Mohammed in partially animal form (with feathers and the tail of a fish).

Historia editor Pierre Baron told Reporters Without Borders that the reaction to the Historia Thématique issue was indicative of the current climate of intolerance. He pointed out that the issue was also about Christian and Jewish fundamentalism, adding that his staff decided that fundamentalism was an appropriate subject because of the increasing frequency of cases of offence being taken on the grounds of religious sensibilities.




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