ISTANBUL, Dec 8 — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today expressed regret over Turkey’s publication of textbooks for children in Syria depicting the Prophet Mohammed, calling their release a “disgrace”.

Local officials in a region of northern Syria under Turkish control decided last month to start withdrawing the religious textbook, which was produced by the education ministry in Ankara.

Although visual depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are not explicitly banned in the Koran, many Muslims frown on them as a form of blasphemy.

Erdogan, a pious Muslim whose ruling party is rooted in political Islam, told a televised meeting of muftis in Ankara that officials have launched an investigation into those “responsible for this disgrace”.

“Even though I don’t have direct knowledge (of what happened), I am quite sad that it occurred under an administration I am responsible for,” he said.

“We’ll do what’s necessary about this situation, which has no excuse, and follow up until those responsible are brought to account.”

One image in the book shows a bearded man in a pink sweater and burgundy pants collecting his daughter from a school bus.

Areas of northern Syria under Turkish control include the city of Al-Bab, where residents had warned of protests, and the town of Jarablus whose residents torched copies of the book. — AFP