A Muslim business-owner in West Watford has condemned provocative posters depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which appeared around the area.

Numan Majeed, who runs an accountancy business based in Queens Road, described the people behind the campaign as "provocateurs" and said the posters "absolutely unacceptable".

The 33-year-old said he and others had been quietly taking the posters down as they did not want to draw attention to them before they were highlighted in a recent political debate.

Police are investigating the posters that were put up around West Watford with "Draw Muhammad Day" written on them and had scrawled drawings of the prophet.

The posters also carried slogans such as "death to those who insult free speech" and appear to be linked to a campaign that started in 2010 relating to censorship of an episode of the US cartoon series South Park.

Mr Majeed said: "The recent provocateurs attempt to Insult the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in West Watford is absolutely unacceptable.

"Watford’s Muslim Community amounts to several thousand and are part of the towns landscape. We are descendants of immigrants from the 50s and 60s, majority of the second and third generations were born in the town and it is the place we call home.

"The Watford Muslim community contributes positively to the fabric of the town, bringing cuisines from various different continents with the variety of restaurants, businesses that employ people from the town and the many who are employed in the public sector, providing invaluable services."

Mr Majeed added that Muslims in the area had been quietly removing the posters as they did not want make a fuss over them because they were intended to be provocative.

However this week the issue was raised Monday night’s mayoral hustings debate in Watford. At the meeting the Liberal Democrat mayor, Dorothy Thornhill said she felt there it was "no coincidence" the posters had appeared at a time when the UK Independence Party was on the rise in the town.

Phil Cox, the UK Independence Party mayoral candidate, later accused the mayor using the posters for "political ends". He said on Tuesday he went around taking posters he found down and handing them into the police.

Mr Majeed, a founder of the Watford Muslims Facebook page, added: "As a community, we are peaceful, open minded and unfortunately due to the misinformation from some politicians and media outlets, we are misunderstood.

"We hold beliefs that are dear to us, which we are happy for people to question, debate, discuss and disagree but not insult. Surely, a civilised, mature community cannot be proud of elements that seek to insult, ridicule what others hold sacrosanct? Surely freedom cannot mean the right to abuse? If it does with no consideration for others, is that humane?"