Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed printed in September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked protests, flag burning, and calls for boycotts of Danish products across the Islamic world. These cartoons show the holy Prophet (PBUH) wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse, and another portrays him with a bushy gray beard and holding a sword, with his eyes covered by a black rectangle. Another drawing showed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) standing in the desert with a walking stick in front of a donkey and a sunset. And a fourth depicts a schoolboy near a blackboard.
A Norwegian newspaper also published the caricatures as well on the occasion of Eid-ul Adha, or the feast of sacrifice. The weekly Magazinet that focuses on Christianity in general on publishing the mentioned caricatures experienced a backlash by the Church Assistance Organization in the country. The Norwegian paper published the 12 caricatures named “Faces of Muhammad” that the Danish paper published on September 30.
As a result Danish products, mainly dairy items, were taken off the shelves in supermarkets run by cooperative societies in the UAE to protest against publication of cartoon strips showing Prophet Mohammed.
There is a wide-spread protest around the world by the Muslims on this issue.
As a tradition (or matter of faith) visual depictions of the Prophet or Allah are considered anti-Islamic.
So, can non-believers depict visuals (even in a decent manner) of these two entities? This is a question that confuses me. I mean its all right for one to believe in a faceless “God” and not even remotely consider the visual, but is it alright to stop someone who doesn’t even share your belief to have creativity in that arena?
By the way, this is the text of the letter from the Editor in English to the Muslims which I have reproduced so the word of the editors of the newspapers and their thoughts is also propogated in their own words:
Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten is a strong proponent of democracy and freedom of religion. The newspaper respects the right of any human being to practise his or her religion. Serious misunderstandings in respect of some drawings of the Prophet Mohammed have led to much anger and, lately, also boycott of Danish goods in Muslim countries.
Please allow me to correct these misunderstandings.
On 30 September last year, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten published 12 different cartoonists’ idea of what the Prophet Mohammed might have looked like. The initiative was taken as part of an ongoing public debate on freedom of expression, a freedom much cherished in Denmark.
In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.
Since then a number of offensive drawings have circulated in The Middle East which have never been published in Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published, had they been offered to us. We would have refused to publish them on the grounds that they violated our ethical code.
Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten attaches importance to upholding the highest ethical standards based upon the respect of our fundamental values. It is so much more deplorable, therefore, that these drawings were presented as if they had anything to do with Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.
Maybe because of culturally based misunderstandings, the initiative to publish the 12 drawings has been interpreted as a campaign against Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the world.
I must categorically dismiss such an interpretation. Because of the very fact that we are strong proponents of the freedom of religion and because we respect the right of any human being to practise his or her religion, offending anybody on the grounds of their religious beliefs is unthinkable to us.
That this happened was, consequently, unintentional.
As a result of the debate that has been going on about the drawings, we have met with representatives of Danish Muslims, and these meetings were held in a positive and constructive spirit. We have also sought in other ways to initiate a fruitful dialogue with Danish Muslims.
It is the wish of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten that various ethnic groups should live in peace and harmony with each other and that the debates and disagreements which will always exist in a dynamic society should do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
For that reason, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has published many articles describing the positive aspects of integration, for example in a special supplement entitled The Contributors. It portrayed a number of Muslims who have had success in Denmark. The supplement was rewarded by the EU Commission.
Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten takes exception to symbolic acts suited to demonise specific nationalities, religions and ethnic groups.