ABC News reports that a Tamil-language daily provoked criticism from religious leaders and politicians in multicultural Malaysia.
The paper's general manager said someone had downloaded the image from the internet to illustrate an article, and did not notice that Jesus appeared to be smoking.
"We are sorry for the mistake, but it was a very honest one," he said, adding that the person responsible had been suspended.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi later said that such images could be hurtful to Christians and disturb religious harmony in the country.
Malaysian paper says sorry over Jesus with cigarette pic
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Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur
Abdulla Ahmad Badawi (Wikipedia)