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Terrorism & Security

Republished Danish cartoon of prophet Muhammad ignites tensions

Muslims have protested Danish and Dutch actions they see as insulting to Islam.

By Julien Spencer / February 19, 2008

More than two years after the publication of cartoons in European newspapers depicting the prophet Muhammad unleashed a heated debate and a fury of rage among Muslims that left more than 50 people dead, the controversy has been reignited with the republication of one of the cartoons in Danish and Dutch newspapers, stirring talk of everything from boycotts to severing of diplomatic ties.

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The BBC reports Danish newspapers have reprinted one of several caricatures, originally published in 2005, that sparked violent protests across the Muslim world the following year. The cartoon was arguably the most controversial, as it depicted the prophet with a bomb in his turban. Muslims consider depictions of the prophet Muhammad offensive.

They say they wanted to show their commitment to freedom of speech after an alleged plot to kill one of the cartoonists behind the drawings....
The cartoons were originally published by Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.
Danish embassies were attacked around the world and dozens died in riots that followed.

On Feb. 12, the Guardian reported, three men were arrested in Denmark for allegedly plotting to kill Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew the original caricature satirizing Muhammad.

Police officials said they made the arrests to "prevent a terror-related murder" after a long period of surveillance, but did not say which cartoonist had been targeted.
The case shows that, unfortunately, there are in Denmark groups of extremists that do not accept and respect the basic principles on which the Danish democracy has been built," said the prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Following the arrests, the left-leaning Danish broadsheet Politiken reprinted the cartoons, calling the murder plot an attack on Denmark's democracy. In an editorial, the newspaper wrote that:

Regardless of whether Jyllands-Posten [the first newspaper to publish the cartoons in 2005] at the time used freedom of speech unwisely and with damaging consequences, the paper deserves unconditional solidarity when it is threatened with terror.

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