17 Danish newspapers print blasphemous cartoon
* Editors say they printed caricature to take a stand again self-censorship
COPENHAGEN: At least 17 Danish newspapers printed on Wednesday a controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad [Peace Be Upon Him] a day after police foiled a murder plot against the cartoonist, as editors vowed to defend “freedom of expression”.
Three of the country’s biggest dailies were among those that published the most controversial cartoon. The caricature was one of 12 cartoons published in September 2005 by daily Jyllands-Posten, which were considered offensive by many Muslims. Their publication sparked violent protests in a number of Muslim countries in January and February 2006.
On Tuesday, Danish police said they had arrested three people, a Dane of Moroccan origin and two Tunisian nationals, suspected of plotting to kill the cartoonist of the most controversial cartoon, Kurt Westergaard. The newspapers that printed the cartoon on Wednesday said they did so to take a stand against self-censorship.
The Danish Foreign Ministry said meanwhile it was following the situation closely in the world.
Members of Denmark’s Muslim community have distanced themselves from the murder plot revealed on Tuesday, but were opposed to the publication of the cartoon on Wednesday.
Imam Walid Abdul Pedersen, a Protestant who converted to Islam, said, “It’s not a good idea to reproduce it and the newspapers could have defended the cartoonist differently, without resorting to provocation.” “It’s good to have a dialogue on freedom of expression, but you shouldn’t seek out a confrontation from the start,” he said.
Danish public opinion appeared meanwhile divided over editors’ decision to reprint the cartooon on Wednesday.
“There’s no point in throwing oil on the fire by reprinting the most provocative caricature,” said Johan, a taxi driver in central Copenhagen. afp