Turkey will not allow Prophet Muhammad to be insulted, says PM Davutoglu

ISTANBUL (Reuters, AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday said Turkey will not allow Prophet Muhammad to be insulted, describing the publication of cartoons of the Prophet as an open provocation.

"Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult," Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara a day after leading Turkish daily Cumhuriyet and Turkish Internet sites published cartoons featuring the Prophet from the special Charlie Hebdo issue.

The Turkish newspaper produced a special four-page pull-out of cartoons and articles drawn from the French satirical magazine on Wednesday in solidarity with the 12 people gunned down in an attack on its offices in Paris.

"We do not allow any insult to the Prophet in this country," Davutoglu said. "As the government, we cannot put side by side the freedom of press and the lowness to insult."

Davutoglu also compared his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to the Islamic extremists who carried out attacks last week in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity.

"Just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists is a crime against humanity, Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills children playing on the beach with the bombardment of Gaza, destroys thousands of homes... and that massacred our (Turkish) citizens on an aid ship in international waters, has committed crimes against humanity," Davutoglu said.

A Turkish court on Wednesday ordered a block on access to websites featuring the latest cover of Charlie Hebdo, after a petition from a single lawyer claiming that the printing of the cartoon had the potential to endanger the public order.

Davutoglu said people were sensitive about their religion in the predominantly Muslim Turkey and could not be expected to show patience towards insults to the Muslim prophet.

"If some print cartoons that insult the Prophet - and this is the situation and there is a sensitivity in Turkey - it is a provocation... it is an open provocation," said Davutoglu.

"We are determined to protect the honour of the Prophet the same way as we are determined in our stance against terrorism in Paris," he said.