Pakistani protesters in Lahore burn a French flag to condemn publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. (AP Photo/K.M.Chaudary )
It was the children’s book about the Koran that led to rioting across the world against the cartoons of Muhammad and it has become something of a bestseller. "The Koran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad," by Kåre Bluitgen, illustrated with ten pictures of Muhammad, has been reprinted twice since it was published two weeks ago in Denmark. Mr Bluitgen, who has written 31 books, said: “This is absolutely the fastest-selling ever.” When he was writing the book Mr Bluitgen complained that illustrators would only work for him anonymously out of fear of Islamic extremists. "It’s bizarre. I write a book to promote understanding between cultures and now I see Danish embassies burning in the Middle East,” he said. “All I can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.” Read here for more
The Wall Street Journal in its issue of Feb 7 reports that 'Egypt's secular government' helped the Danish Islamic clerics as it was "eager to burnish their image as defenders of Islam" thus providing "an important initial impetus for the protests". Egypt's Ambassador to Copenhagen, Ms. Attia, told the WSJ that she wasn't motivated by political concerns but by personal outrage. "I was very angry. I was very upset," she told the WSJ, describing the cartoons as an unacceptable insult to all Muslims. She acknowledged meeting with the Danish clerics several times but denied coordinating strategy with them. Read here for more
The 135-year-old newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, that enflamed the Muslim world by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad once offended Nikita Khrushchev so much that the Soviet leader cancelled a trip to Denmark.In 1992, an editorial bluntly criticizing an anti-immigrant party provoked a furious reaction from conservative voters and readers.Based in Jutland, 160 kilometres northeast of Copenhagen, the paper's circulation is 154,000 on weekdays, rising to about 203,000 on weekends. The controversy over the cartoons has had little effect on those numbers, sales manager Kim Vetsergaard said. Read here for more
The editors of a New York alternative newspaper, New York Press resigned on Wednesday over what they called their managers' REFUSAL to publish controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.Harry Siegel said that he and three colleagues on the editorial board of the New York Press resigned after being ordered not to print the cartoons in an issue dedicated to the controversy.The same newspaper drew criticism last year for making light of Pope John Paul's failing health. Read here for more
The Danish Islamic scholar who brought cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad to the attention of Muslim leaders around the world says he was only trying to boost his campaign to get an apology from the Danish newspaper that first published them. "I guess we took the illustrations to influential people so they could help," Ahmed Akkari told CBC News on Wednesday. "Is it so tough giving an apology?" The 31-year-old took the illustrations with him during a December trip to the Middle East. Read here for more
Denmark's government, angry at local imams accused of whipping up anti-Danish anger in the Middle East over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, said yesterday it would exclude them from talks on ethnic minority integration.A number of Danish politicians and the media have accused some Muslim leaders of stirring up resentment during a tour of the Middle East in December and January. Read here for more
COMMENTARY:The Real Truth Behind Cartoons Fury: The Danish cartoons only sparked some mild complaints when they first appeared last September.The present wave of intense protests was sparked when half a dozen other newspapers throughout Europe provocatively reprinted the cartoons last month.This was coupled with European political and press leaders telling the Islamic world that Western freedom of the press was a higher moral value and a greater political priority than Muslims' concern that their leading prophet not be subjected to blasphemy and insult.This occurs at a time when Islamist political movements throughout the region are winning election after election. Islamist identity repeatedly triumphs. Read here for more
A Moscow museum, the Sakharov Museum and Public Center, has announced it will exhibit the entire series of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. Yury Samodurov, director of the museum said on Russian television that the center was ready to organize a public exhibition of the cartoons satirizing the founder of Islam that originally were published in a Danish newspaper. "We must show the whole world that Russia goes along with Europe, that the freedom of expression is much more important for us than the dogmas of religious fanatics," Samodurov said.The exhibition reportedly will open in March. Lawyer Yury Shmidt has said he will invite French philosopher Andre Glucksmann and French novelist Michel Houellebecq to the opening ceremony to read lectures about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Read here for more
The Danish editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newpaper responsible for publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad said he's willing to publish cartoons on the Holocaust from Iran.
"My newspaper is trying to establish a contact with the Iranian newspaper, and we would run the cartoons the same day as they publish them," Flemming Rose of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten said Wednesday in an interview on CNN's American Morning.
The Iranian newspaper Hamshahri said Tuesday it would hold the competition to test whether the West extends the same principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to caricatures of the Prophet.
The Iranian newspaper said its contest would be launched Monday and co-sponsored by the House of Caricatures, a Tehran exhibition centre for cartoons.
The newspaper and the cartoon centre are owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, well-known for his opposition to Israel and has questioned the Holocaust as a possible `myth.'.
The Jesus Cartoon
Meanwhile, the chief editor of Jyllands-Posten's Sunday edition, Jens Kaiser, said Wednesday it was quality, not content, that made him reject caricatures of Jesus three years ago, even though he told the cartoonist at the time that he feared "an outcry."
The cartoons had been sent in unsolicited.
Kaiser's e-mail to the cartoonist rejecting the drawings has been circulated to news media in recent days, apparently to question Jyllands-Posten's commitment to free speech regardless of topic.
In his e-mail, Kaiser told the rejected cartoonist that readers would not enjoy the drawings, which "will provoke an outcry."
Kaiser said Wednesday that he had actually rejected them because "their quality was not good."
However, he conceded that it "looks like we have opted for a line to publish Muhammad drawings and not Jesus drawings."
"I have been Sunday editor for 18 years, and I can say that 90-95 per cent of the unsolicited material we get is turned down," he said.
Call for Editor to Resign
Meanwhile, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste, said Wednesday he had no intention of resigning over the issue.
He remarks came after Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen said on national radio that "when an editor-in-chief admits he made an erroneous judgment ... he should quit."
Jyllands-Posten said on Jan. 30 it regretted it had offended Muslims and apologized to them, but stood by its decision to print the cartoons, saying it was within Danish law.
Two days later, Juste said he would not have printed the cartoons had he foreseen the consequences.