Newspapers reprint controversial Mohamed cartoon

By Jan M. Olsen, AP

Denmark’s leading newspapers today reprinted a cartoon that depicts the Prophet Mohamed wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

The papers said they wanted to show their firm commitment to freedom of speech after Tuesday’s arrest in western Denmark of three people accused of plotting to kill the man who drew the cartoon.

The drawing by Kurt Westergaard and 11 other cartoons depicting Mohamed enraged Muslims two years ago when they appeared in a range of Western newspapers.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which first published the 12 drawings on 30 September 2005, reprinted Westergaard’s cartoon in its paper edition today. Several other major dailies, including Politiken and Berlingske Tidende, also reprinted the drawing, which shows Mohamed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

“We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper will always defend,” said the Copenhagen-based Berlingske Tidende.

Tabloid Ekstra Bladet reprinted all 12 drawings.

The police intelligence agency, PET, said two Tunisians and a Danish citizen of Moroccan origin were arrested yesterday in pre-dawn raids in Aarhus, western Denmark.

PET chief Jakob Scharf said the purpose of the operation was “to prevent a terror-related assassination of one of the cartoonists behind the cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.”

Jyllands-Posten said the plot focused on Westergaard, 73, who works for the paper.

Scharf said the Danish suspect would likely be released after questioning, but could still face charges of violating a Danish terror law. The two Tunisians would be expelled from Denmark because they were considered threats to national security, he said.

Massive protests swept the Muslim world in early 2006 following the publishing of the cartoons. Danes watched in disbelief as angry mobs burned the Danish flag and attacked the country’s embassies in Muslim countries including Syria, Iran and Lebanon. Danish products were boycotted in several Muslim countries.


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