A day after police thwarted a murder plot against, Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist responsible for a controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban, 17 Danish newspapers printed the aforementioned drawing.
Three of the country's largest newspapers were among those to reprint the cartoon today. Editors staunchly defended their freedom of expression and refused to censor the content—noting that they would not be intimidated by fanatics, reports editorandpublisher.com.
The cartoon, considered offensive by numerous Muslims, was one of a series of 12 caricatures published in Sept. 2005 by daily Jyllands-Posten. Violent protests ensued in several Muslim countries in Jan. and Feb. 2006.
Danish police claimed to have arrested three people yesterday—a Dane of Moroccan origin and two Tunisian nationals in relation to the murder plot.
When asked why they chose to reprint the cartoon, the newspapers explained that they were demonstrating their right to publish uncensored material.
"Freedom of expression gives you the right to think, to speak and to draw what you like ... no matter how many terrorist plots there are," conservative broadsheet Berlingske Tidende wrote in an editorial.
Westergaard has lived in hiding for the past three months while the Danish press has maintained that it has “unanimously condemned the alleged murder plot against the cartoonist.”
The Danish Muslim community has attempted to dissociate themselves from the murder plot but have expressed disapproval of the cartoon's publication today.
Imam Walid Abdoul Pedersen, a Protestant who converted to Islam, said: "It's not a good idea to reproduce it and the newspapers could have defended the cartoonist differently, without resorting to provocation."
Pedersen explained that while a dialogue on freedom of expression would be beneficial, perhaps the newspapers' confrontational manner of provoking discussion, in printing the cartoon, was not the most productive.
The Danish foreign ministry has been forced to remain sensitive to the issue since the 2006 controversy sparked Danish flag burnings and international protests.
Source: AFP Mail – Editor & Publisher