Melon Farmers Unrated

Mohammed Cartoons

Cartoons outrage the muslim world

11th April

Update: Saudi as Extreme as the UK...

What is about modern life that makes judges feel they have to counter verbal diarrhea in text messages with extreme punishments?

A Saudi court has sentenced a local woman to 50 lashes for swearing at her friend, following an argument, a newspaper reported.

The two Saudi women decided to go out with their children for a weekend night but argued on where to go. The two women decided to split ... one of them later sent a text to her friend's mobile phone swearing at her.

The other woman went to court and showed the judge the message ... although that woman said she was joking, the court ordered her lashed 50 times.


11th April

Update: Cartoon Violence...

Egyptian jailed for 3 years for posting Mohammed cartoons on Facebook

An Egyptian court sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that supposedly mocked Islam and Mohammad.

Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut.

Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime.

Assiut child's court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud ... for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet, the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.

Some muslims responded to the cartoon in traditional violent fashion. Muslims attacked several Christian houses, which were burned, and several Christians were injured in the violence.


27th February

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie...

Obscure court in Pakistan re-opens the Mohammed cartoon nonsense and calls for the arrest of Mark Zuckerberg

A case for the arrest of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Cultural Editor of Danish Newspaper Fleming Rose, for allowing blasphemous cartoons of  Mohammad. has been registered in Jhang, in Pakistan

The case was registered after Advocate Muhammad Zahid Saeed, stirred by websites allegedly supposedly demeaning Mohammad, filed a petition before the District Session Judge seeking a ban on websites including Facebook, YouTube, Google and others.

In his petition, Saeed said that on visiting some websites while on the internet, he and his companion found caricatures of Mohammad published which, he alleged, were trying to create a war between Muslims and non-Muslims . He added that the caricatures were a form of international terrorism and evil profession .

Session Judge Arshad Masood responded to the petition by saying that the deliberate and malicious act of displaying derogatory caricatures is a continuing offence and a case must be registered in Pakistan and anywhere else in the world where the sentiments of Muslims were hurt.

The petitioner had maintained that the proceedings against the accused should be served through the Danish Ambassador and US Ambassador in Pakistan.


23rd June

Update: Educational Blasphemy...

Indian school book found to have Mohammed cartoon
The depiction of Mohammed in a cartoon in a school book has raised a storm in Lucknow. Muslim bodies are up in arms, demanding immediate withdrawal of the book and threatening to take to the streets if action was not taken within three days.

This is blasphemy. No Muslim will accept this, said All India Shahi Dargah Committee president Maulana Hashmi. He has demanded that Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal resign, taking moral responsibility for the error.

The cartoon has appeared in the book Moral education ethics.


16th May

Update: Show Trial...

Jordan court case hears witnesses in case against Mohammed cartoonist

While cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who gained fame for his 2005 drawing of Muhammad wearing a turban bomb in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and his 19 co-defendants were nearly 3,000 kilometres away in Denmark, a blasphemy case against them got underway in absentia in Jordan.

The case resumed last week with witness testimony. It was brought by a group of Jordanian academics, journalists, lawyers and politicians calling themselves God's Prophet Unites Us .

None of the defendants, or any legal representation in their defense is taking part in the trial, which is being decried as nothing more than a show trial even by those who support the charges.

For his part, Westergaard said in April that he would have nothing to do with the trial: I have not heard about this trial and have not been informed, the 75-year-old told AFP. In any case, I have no intention of going even if I am asked to. I do not want to risk becoming familiar with the Jordanian prisons, which would be hell.

The summons in the case accuses Westergaard and the 19 newspaper editors involved in publishing the 2005 cartoon of defamation, slander, blasphemy and inciting racism. If convicted, he could be sentence to 10 years in prison under Jordanian law.

The odds of Westergaard actually serving time, however, are slim to none. Zaki Salem, an international law expert said that Interpol would not deport anyone for alleged crimes that fall under freedom of expression. Salem said he could imagine no circumstance in which Westergaard would be deported to Jordan.


26th April

Update: Cartoon Court...

Jordan court case opens with Mohammed cartoonist charged with humiliating islam

Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and 19 other Danish journalists and editors went on trial in Jordan on charges of blasphemy over the publication of the controversial Mohammed cartoons six years ago.

None of the defendants appeared in the Amman court.

The judge, Nathir Shehadah, decided to conduct the trial in absentia after he considered that the publication of arrest warrants and indictments in the local press served as legal notifications. The trial was adjourned to May 8, when the tribunal will be scheduled to hear defence witnesses.

The lawsuit was filed by the God's Prophet Unites us Campaign , a coalition of Jordanian academics, lawmakers, unionists, journalists, lawyers and politicians.

The list of charges, which has already been approved by the Jordanian public prosecutor, includes blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed and humiliation of Islam and Muslims.


15th April

Update: Cartoon Court...

Jordan court will try Mohammed cartoonist for blasphemy

A Jordan court case will begin this month accusing Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard of blasphemy over the famous cartoon depicting Mohammed wearing a turban bomb.

Zakarya Sheikh, spokesman for a group of local media outlets that sued Westergaard in 2008 said that the artist and others have been summoned by a magistrates' court in Amman to stand trial on April 25.

These legal measures seek to prevent attempts to insult Islam and incite racial hatred against Muslims worldwide, particularly in Europe, Sheikh told AFP.

Kurt Westergaard has been quoted in local news reports as saying that he would like to go to Amman to stand trial. However, what I fear is that I am convicted in advance. I have no problem with Islam but with the terrorists. He said he respects Islam but will not apologise.


13th November

Update: Dangerous Books...

Kurt Westergaard publishes his autobiography

The autobiography of the Danish cartoonist who sparked Muslim outrage by depicting Mohammed with a bomb for a turban was quickly whisked off shelves by book buyers when it went on sale Friday.

In Denmark's western town of Aarhus, the autobiography of Kurt Westergaard had already sold out and book stores there were desperate for more copies, John Lykkegaard, the author and publisher of the book, said Friday evening.

Six thousand copies had been printed for the Friday release. Lykkegaard said 10,000 more copies would probably need to be printed early next week.

The book entitled Manden Bag Stregen (The Man Behind the Line) details the life of 75-year-old Westergaard, and also features a republished version of his controversial drawing that has earned him numerous death threats and assassination attempts.

The cover is adorned with the last caricature Westergaard published in Jyllands-Posten before retiring in June. That drawing features Westergaard riding a scraggy horse and carrying an oversized fountain pen and notebook, being pursued by a donkey carrying a weight with the words freedom of expression scrolled across it, topped with a live bomb and menacing clouds with the crescent moon of Islam lurking above.


1st October

Update: Tyranny of Silence...

Flemming Rose's book about the Mohammed cartoons goes on sale

A new book containing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed went on sale on Thursday in Denmark, on the fifth anniversary of their original publication.

The 12 cartoons were initially published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005, sparking violent protests a few months later in several Muslim countries.

Jyllands-Posten culture editor Flemming Rose, who had commissioned the cartoons for an article on self-censorship, said he wrote the book as part of a process of closure , but also in a bid to discuss freedom of speech in broader terms. For me, the book ends the Mohammed cartoon phase, he said.

On the eve of the book's publication, the Danish government said it feared fresh protests. The foreign minister met with envoys from 17 Muslim countries as part of efforts to avert this, while underlining the government's wish to protect freedom of speech.

At a news conference on the eve of the publication of Tavshedens Tyranni (The Tyranny of Silence) , Rose quoted a sentence from the book stating that the cartoons do not legitimate violence, and the issue is not worth a single human life .

Rose noted that the cartoons were commissioned after he read about a Danish author's difficulties in finding an illustrator for a children's book on the prophet. After three rejections, the author found an artist, who however refused to be named in the book.

Following the paper's publication of the cartoons, Rose has been repeatedly threatened - a fate he shares with former Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew a cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban.


9th September

Update: Cartoon Bravery...

Angela Merkel honours Kurt Westergaard by presenting him a press freedom award

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard received this year's M100 Media Prize.  This year's award is for Freedom of the Press in Europe .

Kurt Westergaard created one of the 12 Muhammad cartoons accompanying a feature entitled The Face of Muhammad , published on 30 September 2005, in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. His illustration triggered an international controversy about freedom of speech and sparked world-wide, partly violent demonstrations of Muslims who felt insulted.

It wasn't my intention to attack Islam , stated Westergaard in an interview with Der Spiegel, but instead terrorists who abuse Islam for their spiritual ammunition.

Despite an alleged bounty of eleven million Dollar on him and his colleagues, Westergaard defended the publication by invoking the right to freedom of speech.

The board of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium honours his courage to stand by these democratic values and defend them, notwithstanding threats of violence and death.

The Lord Mayor of Potsdam declared: With Kurt Westergaard we honour a personality who has become a symbol for freedom of speech and opinion. When the drawing of a caricature results in death threats it is our duty to publicly back the illustrator. The Prize is setting a signal.

Based on article from

German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented him with the award, saying Westergaard was entitled to draw his caricatures: Europe is a place where a cartoonist is allowed to draw something like this. We are talking here about the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, added that German people clearly remembered the implications of a lack of freedom and should therefore cherish it: It's about whether in a Western society with its values he [Mr Westergaard] is allowed to publish his Muhammad cartoons, or not. Is he allowed to do it? Yes he is, Ms Merkel said.

She described Europe as a place that respects and values the freedom of belief and religion.

Security was tight at Sanssouci palace in Potsdam where the cartoonist told reporters: Maybe they will try to kill me and maybe they will have success, but they cannot kill the cartoon.

Merkel's decision to speak at the event about press freedom has caused some surprise in Germany. One newspaper said she was taking a huge risk . Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that the effect of having a photograph taken with Kurt Westergaard was incalculable, describing it as probably be the most explosive appointment of her chancellorship so far .

Germany's Central Muslim Council (ZMD) criticised Merkel for attending the award ceremony. A ZMD spokesman, Aiman Mazyek, told public broadcaster Deutschlandradio that the Chancellor was honouring someone who in our eyes kicked our prophet, and therefore kicked all Muslims . He said giving Westergaard the prize in a highly charged and heated time was highly problematic .


28th August

Update: A Dangerous Book...

Flemming Rose to reprint Mohammed cartoons in his book

A leading U.S. terrorism expert has warned of renewed tensions between the Muslim world and Denmark in connection with plans by Jyllands-Postens Culture Editor Flemming Rose to release a book in which caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed are reprinted.

In his The tyranny of silence Rose studies the 12 controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, which were first published in Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

If I were him, I would seriously consider the consequences of reprinting the drawings, says U.S. terrorism expert Evan Kohlman, who has worked for the FBI and the U.S. administration on terrorism issues. Kohlman says that while he understands the issue of freedom of speech, every time the drawings are reprinted, there are riots and demonstrations and there will be bloodshed .

The author insisted in an interview with Jylland-Posten competitor Politiken that he was not trying to be provocative, stressing that he simply wanted to tell the story of the 12 drawings and put them into a context of (other) pictures considered offensive.

I am sure that a lot of people don't know what I think of these drawings. My concerted wish is to explain myself. I have nothing but words to do so, but once people have read the book ... maybe they will be able to see the broader context, he said.

The spokesman for the Islamic Society in Denmark Imran Shah says that Flemming Rose is beyond reach and says that Danish Muslims will probably react by shrugging their shoulders.


13th July

Update: Inspired to Murder...

Cleric writing in Al Qaeda magazine calls for the deaths of Mohammed cartoonists

A muslim cleric has placed the Seattle cartoonist who launched Everybody Draw Mohammed Day on an execution hitlist.

The Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki  singled out artist Molly Norris as a prime target : A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air created by Allah and enjoy a life provided for by Allah. Their proper abode is Hellfire.

In Inspire , an English language Al Qaeda terrorist mag, Awlaki damns Norris and eight others for blasphemous caricatures of Muhammed. The 67-page magazine is seen by terrorism experts as a new attempt to reach and recruit Muslim youth in the West. The other cartoonists, authors and journalists in Awlaki's crosshairs are Swedish, Dutch and British citizens.

Norris initially grabbed headlines in April when she published a satirical cartoon on her Web site that declared May 20th Everybody Draw Mohammed Day as a way to mock Viacom and Comedy Central's decision to censor an episode of South Park that showed Mohammed dressed in a bear suit.

David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the very serious threat. We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target.


19th June

Update: Pakistan Starts a Hate Facebook Group...

Seeking the prosecution of Facebook founder over supposedly blasphemous Mohammed cartoons

Following publication of what Pakistan's government and religious leaders regard as blasphemous images on the Internet, the authorities successfully shut down Facebook access throughout the country. They are now moving to do the same with such sites as YouTube and Google. Last month more than 10,000 sites were banned on pretext of blasphemy.

On May 31st a High Court judge, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the government to take action in respect to alleged blasphemy on Facebook. On June 11th in consequence of this order, the Deputy Attorney General authorised and initiated the first stage of investigation and prosecution of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

The Deputy Attorney General on June 11th lodged with police a First Information Report (FIR) against the owner of Facebook .

A FIR is the document that Police register when a case is lodged against anyone. This document then becomes the prime source of evidence and on the basis the legal case will move.

The FIR refers to section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which reads Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

The actual FIR details the charge in respect of an offense under Section 295-C Pakistan Penal Code and punishment under this offense is death penalty or rigorous life imprisonment

The next hearing is scheduled for 12th July 2010. It is highly likely that this prosecution will be initiated in time for the 12th July hearing. At that point arrest papers may be issued and Zuckerberg will become a wanted felon.


18th March

Update: Offended by Libel Tourism...

Saudis use UK libel courts to attack Danish newspapers over the Mohammed cartoons

The Danish minister of justice has called on the European Commission to put a stop to a lawsuit by a Saudi lawyer who is using the UK's famously libel-happy courts to go after Danish newspapers for their publication of cartoons of Mohammed.

It's fundamentally reasonable that judgments in the EU can often be exercised across borders, the minister, Lars Barfoed, said according to the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

But it would be taking it to the extreme if a UK court could rule against the Danish media and then require compensation and court costs to be paid.

Britain is said to be the libel tourism capital of the world. In English and Welsh courts, the burden of proof is borne by the accused rather than the complainant, and as a result they have become the jurisdiction of choice for oligarchs and mafiosi, Saudi billionaires and even totalitarian governments.

On Monday, the Danish government said that they had had enough. Danish justice minister Lars Barfoed demanded that Brussels step in to prevent lawyer Faisal Yamani from suing the Danish papers for damages in British courts on behalf of 95,000 descendents of Mohammed who claim they and their faith have been defamed.

In August 2009, Yamani asked 11 Danish publications to take down the Mohammed cartoons from their websites. While most papers have refused to do so, the left-leaning daily Politiken, finally agreed to do so in February. Rebuffed by the Danish publications, Yamani has moved his fight to UK jurisdiction, where even publication on the internet in a foreign country in another language is considered as good as published domestically.


17th January

Update: From Turban Bombs to Truck Bombs...

Details of truck bombs emerge in plot to attack Jyllands-Posten building

Details of trucks filled with explosives and European terror networks emerge in Jyllands-Posten newspaper plot case.

US citizen David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen and native of Pakistan, are already in police custody for their alleged roles in the plot against the newspaper in retribution for its printing of the Mohammed cartoons.

Additional conspiracy charges were recently filed against Ilyas Kashmiri, who has been identified as a leader of terrorist organisation Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) in Pakistan and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military. Neither man is in police custody.

According to documents released by US authorities, Headley met Rehman and members of the Lashkar terrorist group in Pakistan. Rehman is said to have introduced Headley to Kashmiri who allegedly came up with the idea of the truck bomb. Kashmiri is also reported to have put Headley in contact with various associates in a number of European countries who could provide Headley with money, weapons and manpower for the newspaper attack .


9th January

Updated: Cartoon Assassin...

Police shoot knife wielding islamic terrorist in Kurt Westergaard's home

Danish police have shot and wounded a man at the home of Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked an international row.

Westergaard was at home in Aarhus when a man broke in armed with a knife. Police arrived and shot the man after Westergaard pressed a panic alarm.

Police said he was shot in the knee and the shoulder after threatening officers who tried to arrest him. Preben Nielsen of Aarhus police, said the man was seriously hurt but his life was not in danger.

Danish officials said the intruder was a 28-year-old Somali linked to the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia.

Police said the man had entered Westergaard's house armed with a knife and had shouted in broken English that he wanted to kill him.

Westergaard said he had grabbed his five-year-old granddaughter and run to a specially designed panic room where he raised the alarm.

He has now been taken to a safe location, but said defiantly that he would be back, the newspaper reported.

Update: Charged

3rd January 2010. See article from

A Somali man has been charged with trying to kill a Danish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed sparked riots around the world.

The suspect, who was shot by police outside cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home in the city of Aarhus on Friday, was carried into court on a stretcher.

Police say he broke into the house armed with an axe and a knife.

The suspect, who denies the charge, was remanded in custody. Police say he has links with Somali Islamist militants.

The radical al-Shabab group in Somalia hailed the attack.

Kurt Westergaard Sept 2006 I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police. He tried to smash the entrance door with an axe, but he didn't manage Kurt Westergaard

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Muhamud Rage told AFP news agency: We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target the people like him.

Update: Mohammed Cartoons Reprinted

9th January 2010. Based on article from

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published reproductions of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by Kurt Westergaard, the victim of attempted murder last week.

In an article on Westergaard, the daily printed small versions of six out of the 12 drawings by the Danish cartoonist that had infuriated Muslims around the world when Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first published them in 2005.

Several of the drawings were seen as linking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed to terrorism and suicide bombings, including the turban bomb cartoon.

Update: Cartoon Apologist

1st February 2010.  Based on article from

Pakistan's Daily Mail carries a story claiming that the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan has strongly regretted the re-publication of the Turbomb Motoon in the pages of Aftenposten.

Robert Kvile allegedly is of the view that the Norwegian government would strive to reform understandings and to devise a strategy to stop such practices in future .

Kvile had been summoned to the office of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi.


5th January

Offsite: Fear and Censorship...

Commenting on Index on Censorship on Danish Mohammed cartoons book

Index on Censorship has refused to publish the cartoons of Muhammed in a discussion of their earlier censorship. This betrays its ideals.

Last summer Yale University Press struck a blow for censorship-by-prediction-of-violence when it decided to withdraw illustrations from the academic Jytte Klausen's book about the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. YUP removed not only the cartoons that are the subject of the book, but also all other purported images of Mohammed. This move was fraught with irony given that the cartoon affair itself revolved around predictions of violence, and self-censorship because of fears of violence, and predicted violence eventually, after much effort and encouragement, morphing into actual violence.

Yale consulted with diplomats and security experts before deciding to withdraw the cartoons and the other images of Mohammed (none of which were literally pictures of Mohammed, of course, but artists imaginations of what Mohammed may have looked like), but Jytte Klausen points out that the experts consulted are in fields that predispose them to focus on risks or to prefer peace and silence to disagreement. Diplomats cherish harmony more than free speech, security experts value security over other goods.

But the people at Index on Censorship have other priorities, surely. They at least know the value of free expression, and would not let purely notional imaginary projected risks cause them to censor themselves.

...Read full article


3rd December

Update: The Book without a Spine...

Yale University Press criticised for spineless approach to free speech

A letter has been delivered to Yale university chastising it for not standing up for free speech in the face of imaginary threats of violence.

The letter was signed by sixteen organisations:

  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Society of Journalists and Authors
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Inquiry
  • College Art Association
  • First Amendment Lawyers Association
  • First Amendment Project Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
  • International Publishers Association
  • Modern Language Association
  • National Coalition Against Censorship
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • National Education Association
  • People For the American Way Foundation

The statement, written by National Coalition against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin, argues that by capitulating to threats of violence, Yale has fed a climate in which people will be afraid to speak and publish freely. Yale's decision drew widespread criticism and debate from professors, students and alumni in the past three months.

The situation is extremely disturbing because Yale is a very prominent university, and their doing something like this might justify other institutions doing so, Bertin said. This action compromised the book, the press and an important principle: not only should academics be able to discuss these things among themselves, but in this country we're entitled to talk about and view the images.


10th November

Update: Muhammad: The Banned Images...

US book publishes the Danish cartoons

The Huffington Post has reported that the newly founded Voltaire Press at Duke University has just published Muhammad: The Banned Images .

The book includes all the images that were omitted by the Yale University Press from Jytte Klausen's The Cartoons That Shook the World -- including the 12 Mohammed cartoons -- plus many more historically significant items (a total of 31), together with brief discussions of the context behind each work. The images, reproduced in high quality and in full color, include works by William Blake, Gustave Dore, and Salvador Dali, as well as Muslim artists from the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires.

The book includes an Introduction by Prof. Gary Hull, Director of the Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace at Duke University, who has been the driving force behind the book.

It also includes as an afterword, a Statement of Principle that is worth a look.


20th August

Update: The Book without a Spine...

Yale University Press explain not publishing Mohammed cartoons in book about the cartoons

Yale University Press will publish The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, this November. The Press hopes that her excellent scholarly treatment of the Danish cartoon controversy will be read by those seeking deeper understanding of its causes and consequences.

After careful consideration, the Press has declined to reproduce the September 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten newspaper page that included the cartoons, as well as other depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that the author proposed to include.

The original publication in 2005 of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad led to a series of violent incidents, and repeated violent acts have followed republication as recently as June 2008, when a car bomb exploded outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing eight people and injuring at least thirty. The next day Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing, calling it revenge for the "insulting drawings."

Republication of the cartoons -- not just the original printing of them in Denmark -- has repeatedly resulted in violence around the world. More than two hundred lives have been lost, and hundreds more have been injured. It is noteworthy that, at the time of the initial crisis over the cartoons in 2005-2006, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe declined to print them, as did every major newspaper in the United Kingdom.

The publishing of the book raised the obvious question of whether there remains a serious threat of violence if the cartoons were reprinted in the context of a book about the controversy. The Press asked the University for assistance on this question.

The University consulted both domestic and international experts on behalf of the Press. Among those consulted were counterterrorism officials in the United States and in the United Kingdom, U.S. diplomats who had served as ambassadors in the Middle East, foreign ambassadors from Muslim countries, the top Muslim official at the United Nations, and senior scholars in Islamic studies. The experts with the most insight about the threats of violence repeatedly expressed serious concerns about violence occurring following publication of either the cartoons or other images of the Prophet Muhammad in a book about the cartoons.

Ibrahim Gambari, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and senior adviser to the secretary-general, the highest ranking Muslim at the United Nations, stated, You can count on violence if any illustration of the Prophet is published. It will cause riots I predict from Indonesia to Nigeria.

Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, dean of the Under-Secretaries-general, under-secretary-general of the United Nations, and special adviser to the secretary-general, informed us, These images of Muhammad could and would be used as a convenient excuse for inciting violent anti-American actions.

Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs and chair of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale, said, I agree completely with the other expert opinions Yale has received. If Yale publishes this book with any of the proposed illustrations, it is likely to provoke a violent outcry.

Given the quantity and quality of the expert advice Yale received, the author consented, with reluctance, to publish the book without any of these visual images.

Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult. The University has no speech code, and the response to hate speech on campus has always been the assertion that the appropriate response to hate speech is not suppression but more speech, leading to a full airing of views. The Press would never have reached the decision it did on the grounds that some might be offended by portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, Yale University Press has printed books in the past that included images of the Prophet. The decision rested solely on the experts' assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.


13th August

Update: The Book That Dare Not Print Its Name...

Book about the Mohammed cartoons won't print the cartoons

It's not all that surprising that Yale University Press would be wary of reprinting notoriously controversial cartoons of Muhammad in a forthcoming book...But in a book telling the story of the cartoons?

Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005.

What's more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children's book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante's Inferno that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.

The book's author, Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born professor of politics at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., reluctantly accepted Yale University Press's decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Ms. Klausen said by telephone, adding that Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.

Reza Aslan, a religion scholar and the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam , is a fan of the book but decided to withdraw his supportive blurb that was to appear in the book after Yale University Press dropped the pictures. The book is a definitive account of the entire controversy, but to not include the actual cartoons is to me, frankly, idiotic.

This is an academic book for an academic audience by an academic press. There is no chance of this book having a global audience, let alone causing a global outcry. It's not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary.

The book is due out in November.


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