A Danish appeals court yesterday rejected a suit filed by seven Muslim organisations against newspaper editors who in 2005 first published a dozen controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The appeals court judges ruled that the caricatures, which have since sparked angry and in some cases deadly protests across the Muslim world, did not aim to insult followers of Islam, as the plaintiffs had charged. One of the cartoonists is still in hiding under police protection following death threats. The seven Muslim organisations, all based in Denmark, had accused the Jyllands-Posten daily’s chief editor and culture editor of wilfully offending believers by printing the “offensive and degrading” drawings. Yesterday’s ruling confirmed a verdict handed down in October 2006 by a lower court in the central Danish town of Aarhus, where Jyllands-Posten is based.
Appeals court president Peter Lilholt stressed that the Danish judiciary, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, could not “restrict freedom of expression” unless it clearly affected national or public security.