Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires to condemn “in the strongest terms, the publication of an offensive and blasphemous sketch of the Holy Prophet”.
The move adds to a chorus of criticism over the series of drawings, by artist Lars Vilks, one of which was published earlier this month by a regional Swedish newspaper.
The drawings show the head of a turbaned man attached to the body of a dog, in front of various settings including a football goal.
The publication, in the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, came after several galleries had refused to display the drawings, apparently for fear of violent retaliation from offended Muslims.
Early last year, violent demonstrations erupted throughout the Muslim world after the publication in Denmark of 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed which were also deemed blasphemous.
“Alongside the picture, we published a comment piece saying that it was serious that there is self-censorship among exhibition [galleries],” said the Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief, Ulf Johansson.
Last weekend, a small gathering of protestors gathered outside the newspaper’s offices to demonstrate against the cartoon’s publication.
That was followed this Monday by Iran summoning Sweden’s chief diplomat in Teheran to express its own outrage. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has blamed “Zionists” for the images but said he would not hold the Swedish people responsible.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that Sweden’s charge d’affaires had promised his government “shared the views of the Muslim community and termed the publication as unfortunate”.
In Stockholm, the Swedish foreign ministry said it now considered the matter closed.
But last year’s violent protests over the Danish cartoons has showed that initially little noticed drawings can eventually prompt widespread anger.
In that case, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons in September 2005, but it was not until the New Year in 2006 that major protests broke out.
Artist Lars Vilks has not confined his provocative cartoons to Islam however. Another drawing, featured on his website, features a giant hook-nosed pig looming over hillside houses.
The caption reads: “Modern Jew sow, swollen by capitalism, on her way to tear apart some peaceful villages”.