RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, said Wednesday it deplored the continued "mocking of Islam" by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The kingdom is "surprised, and deplored" the publication last week of a new cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the state Saudi Press Agency said, citing a source at the foreign ministry.
"The kingdom does not find any justification for such deliberate abuse against Islam, which insults the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world," the source said.
Freedom of opinion and expression do not justify "insulting religious beliefs," the source added.
Thousands of people around the world have demonstrated against the latest cartoon, which appeared in Charlie Hebdo's first issue since a Jan 7 attack on the magazine's Paris offices killed 12 people.
The gunmen, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were later shot dead by police.
They said they were avenging previous Muhammad cartoons published by the magazine and considered deeply offensive by many Muslims.
Saudi Arabia condemned the attack against the magazine and also sent a representative to join about four million people who rallied in France after the violence.