A leading figure in the Sunni Islam world called for fellow believers to respond to recent controversial portrayals of Mohammed -- which he said "spread hatred" -- just like the prophet himself would, "through patience and wisdom."
The Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa spoke to CNN as Muslims staged yet more passionate protests Saturday in yet more locales, from Germany to Lebanon to Bangladesh, as they have since September 11. Demonstrators railed against an obscure, 14-minute trailer for a film that mocks Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer -- as well as the country in which it was privately produced, the United States -- and more recently a French satirical magazine's cartoons of a figure representing Mohammed.
Egypt's grand mufti questioned whether in the United States, for example, the inflammatory film "Innocence of Muslims" was not illegal under laws prohibiting the spread of hatred. And he also challenged if laws protecting freedom of speech were applicable.
"This is not freedom of speech, this is an attack on humanity, (an) attack on religions, and (an) attack on human rights," he said.
At the same time, the North African nation's grand mufti -- a figure appointed by Egypt's government whose pronouncements often hold significant sway in the Muslim world -- stressed conflict is not the answer, saying, "We live together and must respect our neighbors."
"These cartoons spread hatred, and we call for peace," he said, adding that Islamic leaders "fear the spread of hatred" against their religion and oppose "the mocking" of any religion.
Noting Egypt-based Coptic Church bishops had condemned the film that sparked protests, Egypt's grand mufti -- who noted he's active in the Coexist Foundation, which promotes religious tolerance -- urged an end to the cycle of different groups attacking each other. And in Egypt, at least, he vowed Muslims and Christians will continue to peacefully coexist despite the recent turmoil.
"My message to those who want (strife) between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, I tell them, 'You will not succeed, because we are one people that have been living together for more than 1,400 years,'" he said.
More Muslims protest inflammatory film, cartoons
The trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" was posted online to YouTube in July, but it wasn't until earlier this month that it gained attention in the Muslim world and stirred tens of thousands of protest in more than 20 nations.