Editor Tests Muslim Taboos With Cartoon Depicting Muhammad

November 10, 2005

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On November 10, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "When Flemming Rose heard last month that Danish cartoonists were too afraid of Muslim militants to illustrate a new children's biography of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, he decided to put his nation's famous tolerance to the test. The cultural editor of Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, then recruited cartoonists to depict Islam's Prophet Muhammad and published them in the paper. Since then, thousands of Danish Muslims, whose religion strictly prohibits depictions of the prophet, have demonstrated in protest, though some have rallied in support of the paper, too. Ambassadors from 11 Islamic countries including Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey signed a letter demanding that the Danish prime minister 'punish' the newspaper. In contrast, a young Iranian woman started a petition in favor of the move. 'This issue goes back to Salman Rushdie. It's about freedom of speech and Islam,' says an unrepentant Rose, who feels a culture of fear and self-censorship has taken hold across Europe since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for criticizing traditional Islam's treatment of women... 'Some Muslims are asking for an apology pointing to a lack of respect,' [Rose] says. 'They're not asking for respect; they're asking for subordination - for us as non-Muslims to follow Muslim taboos in the public domain.'"