Egypt's Grand Mufti on Tuesday warned the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo against publishing a new caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, saying it was a racist act that would incite hatred and upset Muslims around the world, Reuters reported.
Charlie Hebdo is due to publish a front page on Wednesday showing a caricature of the Prophet in its first edition since Islamist gunmen attacked the weekly's offices in Paris last Wednesday, killing 12 people.
"This edition will cause a new wave of hatred in French and Western society in general and what the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence or a dialogue between civilizations," the office of Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, one of the region's most influential Muslim clerics, said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
"This is an unwarranted provocation against the feelings of ... Muslims around the world."
A total of 17 people were killed in three days of violence that began when the gunmen opened fire at Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its past publication of satirical images of the Prophet.
With demand surging for this week's edition, Charlie Hebdo planned to print up to 3 million copies, dwarfing its usual run of 60,000.
The Grand Mufti described the attack on Charlie Hebdo as a "terrorist" attack and Egypt's Al-Azhar, a thousand-year-old seat of religious learning respected by Muslims around the world, has referred to the attack as a criminal act.
But they have also been critical of caricatures of the Prophet, which provoked protests when they were first published in 2005.
The Grand Mufti's office called on the French government to reject what he called the "racist act" by Charlie Hebdo, accusing the newspaper of seeking to provoke "religious strife... and deepen hatred".
The offices of Charlie Hebdowere also firebombed by suspected Islamists in 2011 when it published other cartoons making fun of Mohammed, causing no injuries.
On Sunday, four days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the offices of a German newspaper that reprinted the weekly’s cartoons were the target of an arson attack.
Vandals threw rocks at the offices of the Hamburg Morgenpost and a firebomb was also thrown through the basement window of the building, setting fire to a number of archival files.