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Local Muslims Hope Cartoon Controversy May Educate Others

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Fallout is continuing over cartoon drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, as well as one local student paper. A local Islamic association now hopes to turn the attention into something positive.

This week, Muslim prayer services in Raleigh focused on the prophet Muhammad. They openly discussed the cartoon drawings, printed in newspapers in several countries.

"It's really a terrible and insulting way to depict one of the most famous prophets and most revered prophets in Islam," said local Muslim Debbie Jaunich.

"I would imagine the same outcome would have happened if someone had made a cartoon of the Holocaust or Jesus or any other religious figure or event," said local Muslim Imran Aukhil.

The cartoon sparked violent protests throughout the world. While local Muslims are also upset and angry, they are denouncing scenes of violence against European embassies in the Middle East.

"According to Islamic philosophy and teachings, violence and violent reactions are inappropriate in just about any situation," said Aukhil.

"We should use this opportunity to try to teach people about how we revere the prophet Muhammad and to teach 'peace be upon him' and to teach people that violence is not the answer," said Jaunich.

To do that, the Islamic Association of Raleigh plans to run ads in local newspapers, explaining Muhammad and his messages. It hopes to continue the campaign for several months.

"According to Islamic teachings you take the good and you leave the bad," said Aukhil.

However, some Muslims are taking issue with one local newspaper. UNC students want The Daily Tar Heel to apologize for publishing an original cartoon depicting Muhammed.

The UNC Muslim Students Association feels the cartoon was offensive and hypocritical. A cartoonist at the paper drew the cartoon. The editor says the newspaper wanted to challenge fellow students to think about the issue.

However, local Muslims hope that all of the controversy, at home and abroad, will better educate people about their faith and bring more understanding from people of all religions.


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