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22nd Jan 2022

Danish muslim prophet cartoon quarrel goes to court

  • The Danish government insists it has no means of influencing the press (Photo: EUobserver)

Danish Muslim organisations are planning to take the daily Jyllands-Posten to the European Court of Human Rights over controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

The decision was announced Monday (9 January) by Kasem Ahmad, leader of Danish Islamic religious body Islamsk Trossamfund, uniting various Muslim organisations, following an announcement that a Danish local attorney general had rejected their case.

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Islamsk Trossamfund had sued the daily for the publication of drawings of the prophet Mohammed for blasphemy, as the Koran forbids all visual depictions of the prophet.

In September, Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten invited cartoonists to submit drawings of the prophet Mohammed, after an author complained that nobody dared illustrate his book on Mohammed.

Twelve cartoons were published, according to the newspaper, as "a test of whether fear of Islamic retribution has begun to limit freedom of expression in Denmark."

In one of the drawings, the prophet Mohammed appeares with a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse strapped to his head.

The cartoons have caused outrage in Muslim communities in and outside Denmark, with Islamic countries and Turkey calling upon the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to offer an official apology.

But Mr Rasmussen has persistently said that freedom of expression is the very foundation of Danish democracy and that his government has no means of influencing the press.

Recent comments from the prime minister have however showed a will to reconcile with the Muslim communities.

In his New Years' speech, Mr Rasmussen said that "we should not resort to the freedom of speech as a way of increasing social hatred and fragmentation."

However, the editor in chief for Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste, repeated late last week that the daily will not apologise for publishing the cartoons.

"We will not apologise, because we live in Denmark under Danish law, and we have freedom of speech in this country. If we apologised, we would betray the generations who have fought for this right, and the moderate Muslims who are democratically minded."

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