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Pakistan 19 June 2007

Fatwa pronounced against fashion magazine staff

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a fatwa for “blasphemy” issued by a religious leader against Zubair Kasuri, the editor of English-language fashion magazine Octane and several of his staff.

“The managers of this magazine deserve to die”, Maulana Abdul Aziz said at Friday prayers on 15 June at the radical Lal Masjid or Red Mosque after the magazine carried a series of photos in its June edition captioned “Adam and Eve, the bone of contention”.

The cleric threatened death against the editor, the publisher and other staff on Octane for “blasphemy towards the Hazrat (prophet) Adam”.

Police in Islamabad have also laid a “blasphemy” complaint against the magazine. “We are reporting them to higher authorities so that all copies of the magazines can be seized, the magazine closed and the staff convicted,” said Abdul Jabbar, an officer at the police station in Margala. An Islamabad resident, Syed Aftab Ahmed, is also bringing a case for “publishing obscenity”

“The headline for the series of photos may not to be everyone’s taste, it is true,” the worldwide press freedom organization said. “But there is no possible justification for such radical steps to express disapproval of certain media practices.”

“We urge the Pakistani government to take responsibility for the safety of the staff of the magazine and to put an end to this harassment.”

The editor of the magazine said he had not intended in any way to be disrespectful and the photos were in no way contrary to Islam. He said he was prepared to apologise and regretted the turn the case had taken. No copies of the paper are currently available at newsstands.

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