Critically assess the claim that the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten was irresponsible for publishing the satirical cartoons of Muhammad in 2005. - 1940



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Critically assess the claim that the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten was irresponsible for publishing the satirical cartoons of Muhammad in 2005.

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Text Preview Critically assess the claim that the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten was irresponsible for publishing the satirical cartoons of Muhammad in 2005.

On September 30th 2005, twelve satirical cartoons most of which were representations of the prophet Mohammed of Islam, were published in a Danish newspaper called Jyllands-Posten. The drawings, which included a representation of Mohammad with a bomb as his turban or under his turban, were printed alongside an article about self-censorship and freedom of speech in society and in the press.

The drawings were commissioned by Flemming Rose, the cultural editor for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. They came about after Kare Bluitgen, a Danish writer had found it impossible to find an artist willing to illustrate his childrens book about Mohammad. Rose commissioned the twelve artists to depict Mohammad to highlight this difficulty as three artists turned down the offer to illustrate Bluitgen's book saying they feared violence and the backlash that would ensue from the Muslim community, eventually an artist agreed to illustrate the book, but anonymously.

“One [artist declined], with reference to the murder in Amsterdam of the film director Theo van Gogh, while another [declined, citing the attack on] the lecturer at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute in Copenhagen” – Bluitgen

The refusal of the first three artists and their fear of illustrating the book was seen as a sure sign of self-censorship and led to a lot of debate in Denmark. In the following months the cartoons spread across the world and to Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Not long after this, essentially all Muslim countries saw demonstrations or riots being held. There were many passionate expressions of distress and anger, mainly on two grounds: firstly that Muslim belief does not accept pictorial representations of the Prophet and second that the cartoons associated the Prophet and Muslims generally, with terrorism and violence. What was originally a Danish newspaper’s article to address the issues about freedom of speech against respect for minorities, caused the already present internal tensions within Muslim countries as well as with the secularised Europe with its Christian majorities to ignite. Many threats against the lives have been made, which caused the people responsible for the publishing of the drawings to even go into hiding. There were calls for the UN to intervene and protect religions against unlimited freedom of speech. Boycotts against Danish good in Muslim countries began and several Arab countries eventually closed the doors of their embassies within Denmark.

Responses to the Cartoons and Riots:

Muslim Response was as stated above, uniformly not in favor of the cartoons across the board, labeling them blasphemous, disrespectful and Islamophobic. And also there was also the large violent response by a section of Muslims. Leaders and those in power in Muslim countries and society also took action, calling for boycotts and demanding embargos, eventually closing embassies in Denmark.

Jyllands-Posten’s response to the protests from Muslim groups in Denmark and around the world was to publish two open letters on its website, defending the right of the newspaper to publish the drawings but at the same time apologising for any offense the drawings may have caused, these were in both Danish and Arabic. The second letter was also available in English, it included:

“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.”

Muslim community leaders requested a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister to discuss what the Muslim community saw has an ‘ongoing smear campaign in Danish public circles and media against Islam and Muslims”. The Prime Minister refused to hold such a meeting as he believed the Muslim representatives wished him to take legal... Show More

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