Religion and Spirituality


Danish Muhammad Cartoon Republished

February 13, 2008 03:06 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Riots followed the publication of Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. An alleged plot to kill one of the cartoonist prompts 11 Danish newspapers to take action.

30-Second Summary

Three men were arrested Tuesday in the home city of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first printed the cartoons of the prophet. The New York Times writes that police said they acted “to prevent a terror-related assassination.”

The newspaper said there was a plot to kill the 73-year-old cartoonist who two years ago depicted Muhammad wearing a bomb instead of a turban. One of the most provocative images to appear in 2005, the cartoon was reprinted Wednesday by Jyllands-Posten and 10 other Danish newspapers, who said they were upholding the principle of free speech.

A similar argument prompted the original publication of the cartoons, which were commissioned in response to the perceived self-censorship in the West on the issue of relations with Islam.

At the time of the original publication, reactions were far from uniform. There were Muslims who condemned the violence and secularists who thought the cartoons were juvenile and needlessly offensive.

Some questioned the sincerity of the outrage in the Islamic world. The trouble didn’t flare until February 2006, although the pictures appeared in Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.

According to British geneticist and author of “The God Delusion” Richard Dawkins, a group of Muslims who had been living in Denmark toured Islamic countries, distributing copies of the pictures.

They supplemented the cartoons with three pictures that had never been meant to depict Muhammad. One was an Associated Press photo of a Frenchman wearing a pig’s nose competing in a “pig-squealing contest.”

It was only after these images and the original 12 had been circulated that the violence started.

Tuesday’s arrests may rekindle culture clashes in traditionally tolerant Denmark, The New York Times wrote Wednesday.

Headline Links: Cartoon republished after arrests

Background: The 2006 cartoon controversy

Opinion & Analysis: The limits of free speech

Related Link: Iran retaliates


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