News in English

Newspapers reprint Mohammed cartoon

The country's media has been quick to demonstrate solidarity with the cartoonist who was the target of an alleged assassination plot

Newspaper readers woke up on Wednesday to find a controversial image of the prophet Mohammed once again making headlines.

Even though the image of a lit bomb growing out of the prophet Mohammed's turban was first printed in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005, editors from all of the country's major dailies decided to re-print it on Wednesday after it was discovered that Muslim extremists had plotted to assassinate the man who drew it, Kurt Westergaard.

Police and the domestic intelligence agency PET on Tuesday apprehend the three men suspected of planning to murder Westergaard, but the arrests renewed concern about what measures needed to be taken to protect freedom of speech in the face of extremism.

When Westergaard's cartoon was first printed along with 11 others in Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper came under attack for deliberately provoking Muslims, many of whom consider it blasphemous to print images of the prophet Mohammed. Anti-Danish protests erupted in Muslim countries that killed dozens and caused property damage that ran up in the millions. 

With the discovery of the assassination plot, editors at other major newspapers decided to re-print the cartoon as a sign of solidarity with Westergaard and as a means to reassert freedom of speech.

Berlingske Tidende newspaper did not print the cartoons during the crisis which followed the cartoons' original publication. But Lisbeth Knudsen, its current editor-in-chief, said doing so now was intended as 'a clear and unambiguous message' to extremists.

'We can't accept that freedom of speech be taken hostage by religious fanaticism. Freedom of speech can be respectful and tolerant, but it should never be intimidated into silence.'

Politiken newspaper, which had criticised Jyllands-Posten or publishing the cartoons two years ago, also decided to print the image.

'In a free society, we can discuss how public discussions should be conducted, but not if they should be conducted,' said Tøger Seidenfaden, Politiken's editor-in-chief.

Other news outlets have chimed in as well, including public broadcaster DR, which uploaded the image to its website.

'The public has the right to know what unleashes these types of reactions,' stated DR news editor, Ulrik Haagerup.

After the arrests were made early Tuesday morning, spokespeople for the Muslim community in Denmark reiterated that acts of violence were not acceptable means of expressing dissatisfaction about the drawings.

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