CAIRO - A prominent Islamist leader has called for a UN resolution criminalizing contempt of religion following the release of a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
"We call for legislation or a resolution to criminalize contempt of Islam as a religion and its Prophet," Emad Abdel-Ghaffour, the leader of the Salafi Al-Nour Party, told Reuters in an interview.
Protests have rocked several countries around the world over a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad.
Produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer, the film portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The film triggered protests in several countries around the world, which left scores of people dead, including the US ambassador in Libya.
Adding insult into injury, a French magazine published cartoons mocking the prophet, further angering Muslims.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the anti-prophet film, saying the offensive material abuses the right to freedom of expression.
Abdel-Ghaffour, who is an assistant to Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, urged Muslim leaders to join hands to press the world body to criminalize any contempt of religion.
"The voice of reason in the West will prevail if there is mutual respect, dialogue and efficient lobbying for this critical resolution.
Leaders and their entourages from the 193-nation United Nations General Assembly descend on UN headquarters in New York for the world body's annual "general debate" from September 25-October 1.
Morsi will make his Assembly debut along with the new leaders of Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, countries where Islamist parties have moved to the heart of government.
"A proposal to look into the root causes of the obvious racism against Muslims and Arabs as the recent fierce campaign against their Islamic beliefs shows is much needed," said Abdel- Ghaffour.
The Islamist leader believes the repeated insults against Islam and Prophet Muhammad aim to sow discord between Western countries and newly-elected Islamist governments in the Middle East.
"A new reality in the Middle East has emerged after the toppling of autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak and others through democratic elections that brought newly-elected Islamist governments," Abdel-Ghaffour told Reuters.
"There are interest groups who seek to escalate hatred to show newly-elected governments and their Muslim electorate as undemocratic."
Al-Nour Party has said it plans to produce a documentary film on the life of Prophet Muhammad for global release in an effort to counter repeated insults in the West.
Repressed under the rule of Mubarak, Al-Nour Party emerged from Daawa al-Salafiya (Salafi Call), a movement that has previously only backed preaching, not politics.
Analysts believe Egypt's Salafi movement has a devoted following of 3 million people and may control 4,000 mosques nationwide.
Egypt has around 108,000 mosques and smaller places of worship.
Last week, Abdel-Ghaffour told US President Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough in a telephone call that while almost all Egyptians denounced the anti-Prophet film, most of the country's leaders and population shunned the violent reactions seen in other countries.
Similar messages were echoed by Muslim leaders around the world.
Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh has said that attacks on foreign embassies over the film run counter to the peaceful teachings of Islam."Such acts damage the Muslim religion, are not permitted by God and are incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet, he said.