BAGHDAD (AP) -- An Iraqi magazine cartoon depicting a female suicide bomber in a pose like the Statue of Liberty, arm raised with a lit bomb fuse instead of a torch in her hand, has angered lawmakers who voted to sue the publication for allegedly damaging the image of Muslim women.
The editors of al-Isbouiyah, or Weekly, say the cartoon is meant to condemn al-Qaida in Iraq and should be protected under freedom of expression laws enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution.
The controversy erupted on Sunday when Parliament declared the cartoon an insult to Muslims, especially women, and voted to sue the magazine for defamation, a crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
In a statement, the magazine said it had no intention of insulting Muslims.
"It was clear that al-Isbouiyah meant to condemn al-Qaida and extremist groups who use religion to brainwash women and push them to carry out suicide operations that claim the lives of dozens of innocent Iraqis," the magazine said.
It urged legislators to drop legal moves against the magazine and "establish positive relations with the media."
Sunni extremists have increasingly turned to women to carry out suicide attacks, partly because they can more easily hide explosives underneath robes and evade searches by male guards.
The cartoon shows a woman standing on a pedestal in the Islamic burqa gown that covers her from head to toe, a bomb in one hand and a fuse in the other. A caption on the bomb says in Arabic: "Terrorism and female suicide bombers."
Next to the burqa-clad woman, whose eyes are visible above a veil, is an image of the Statue of Liberty, arm raised with her torch in right hand. A caption on the tablet in her left hand reads: "Democracy and Liberty."