Muslims Voice Anger Over Muhammad Cartoons

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Beirut Sunday against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The building housing the Danish consulate burns in the background. (Photo: Joseph Barrak / AFP-Getty Images)

On Sept. 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten, a right-of-center Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad — one of the cartoons depicted Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The hand drawn caricatures of Muhammad, hit a nerve in the Arab and Islamic world and they have since been republished by newspapers across Europe and other countries, in a move defended by media companies as making a stand for free speech.

Several U.S. broadcast outlets showed full or partial images of some of the cartoons. The New York Daily Sun published two of the cartoons Thursday. Several conservative bloggers and Web sites also posted the drawings. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site included a link to the cartoons posted on a European site, and one cartoon appeared on page A6.

LONDON — BBC (International broadcaster), England, Oct. 20: "The ambassadors of 10 Muslim countries have complained to the Danish prime minister about a major newspaper's cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad … A letter from the ambassadors said the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten last month showed the Prophet as a stereotypical fundamentalist … The ambassadors who signed the letter to the prime minister included a number of Arab countries, Pakistan, Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Indonesia."

CASABLANCA — Morocco Times (Electronic daily), Morocco, Jan. 30: "The Muslim world's two main political bodies, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (O.I.C.), said they are seeking a U.N. resolution, backed by possible sanctions, to protect religions. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of [O.I.C.], said in Cairo on Sunday that the international body would 'ask the U.N. general assembly to pass a resolution banning attacks on religious beliefs.' The deputy secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Ben Helli, confirmed that contacts were under way for such a proposal to be made to the U.N."

LONDON — The Times (Conservative), England, Feb. 2: "As protests continued for a second day in Gaza with shouts of 'Death to Denmark,' Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the center-right daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, sat in his book-lined office declaring his surprise at the reaction … He said that he had to stand his ground because, as in the Salman Rushdie affair, freedom of speech was being threatened. 'There is a lot at stake. It would be very naive to think this is only about Jyllands-Posten and 12 cartoons and apologizing or not apologizing … This is about standing for fundamental values that have been the (foundation) for the development of Western democracies over several hundred years, and we are now in a situation where those values are being challenged,' he said … 'I think some of the Muslims who have reacted very strongly to these cartoons are being driven by totalitarian and authoritarian impulses, and the nature of these impulses is that if you give in once they will just put forward new requirements.' "

AMMAN — Al-Shihan (Weekly tabloid), Jordan, Feb. 1: The tabloid Al-Shihan defiantly published three of the cartoons accompanied by pleas for Muslims of the world to "be reasonable." Jihad Momani, the editor-in-chief, explained his decision to print because "people are attacking drawings that they have not even seen." (He was swiftly removed from his post and the newspapers withdrawn from the newsstands.)

CAIRO — Al-Gomhuria (Government-owned), Egypt, Feb. 2: "It is not a question of freedom of opinion or belief," writes the editor, "it is a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims which has been in the works for years. The international community should understand that any attack against our prophet will not go unpunished."

MOSCOW — Pravda (Leftist, online), Russia, Feb. 3: "A wave of anger is sweeping across the Islamic world today as Muslims respond to clerical calls for an international day of anger over 'blasphemous' cartoons of Muhammad. The first protests took place in Jakarta where around 150 activists stormed the Danish Embassy in the Indonesian capital in protest at Denmark's best-read broadsheet printing blasphemous images … 'We're ready for jihad!' crowds chanted as they pelted the building with eggs. One carried a banner reading: 'Let's slaughter the Danish ambassador!' … The tide of unrest showed no signs of diminishing today as hard-line groups in Gaza, Egypt and Iraq called for the demonstrations to continue … Attempts to dampen the furor with apologies from the Danish newspaper and prime minister were undermined by a series of other European newspapers and broadcasters republishing the offending images."

MADRID — El Pais (Liberal), Spain, Feb. 3: Spain's leading newspaper portrayed the head of the Prophet made up of sentences that say, "I must not draw Muhammad."

CAIRO — Al-Ahram (Semi-official), Egypt, Feb. 4: "The anti-Danish campaign will widen a chasm separating both worlds, bolstering the Arabs' reputation of being intolerant while providing an unimportant cartoonist with the opportunity of a lifetime."
—Ramzy Baroud

BERLIN — Die Welt (Conservative), Germany, Feb. 4: "Islam will only become an accepted religion when there are as many jokes about Muhammad as there are about Jesus, Moses and Buddha."

MELBOURNE — The Age (Centrist), Australia, Feb. 4: "A senior Islamic cleric has called on Australia's media not to publish the cartoons that have sparked riots across the Muslim world. Sheikh Fehmi El-Imam, the general secretary of the Board of Imams of Victoria, warned reprinting the cartoons here could 'disturb people who can do things that we don't want them to do' … The hand drawn caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, first published in a Danish newspaper, hit a nerve in the Arab and Islamic world. They have since been republished by newspapers across Europe and New Zealand, in a move defended by media companies as making a stand for free speech … The cartoons have been interpreted as blasphemous because Islamic law forbids any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, favorable or otherwise. Aggravating the affront was one caricature of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse."

DURBAN — Sunday Tribune (Liberal), South Africa, Feb. 5: "Global outrage of Muslims at cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad has hit South Africa, with late night court action preventing the Sunday Tribune and sister papers from publishing any depiction of the prophet … An outcry has greeted the pre-emptive muzzling of the South African press in the cartoon row after a Muslim organization obtained an urgent High Court order on Friday night against Independent Newspapers (publishers of newspapers including the Sunday Tribune), Johncom Media (publishers of the Sunday Times) and the Newspaper Printing Company … The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has described the interdict as alarming … As a result of these cartoons, editors of several international newspapers have been fired, and a Jordanian editor was arrested."

NEW DELHI — The Hindu (Left-leaning, independent), India, Feb. 6: "Denmark warned its citizens against non-urgent travel to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen and religious leaders called for a boycott of Danish goods. A similar warning was issued to Scandinavians traveling to Gaza and the West Bank after the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades demanded that all Swedes and Danes leave the territories. The protests took a more threatening turn when an Iraqi militant group called for attacks against Danish and Norwegian targets after a Norwegian newspaper ran the cartoons."

KUWAIT CITY — Al-Qabas (Independent), Kuwait, Feb. 6: "If we fail to tell the truth and defend the Prophet of truth we would rather be [buried] in the earth than living on its surface."
—From an advertisement by the union of oil workers

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail (Centrist), Canada, Feb. 6: "In Iraq, a roadside bomb targeted a joint Danish-Iraqi patrol near the southern city of Basra on Monday, wounding one Iraqi policeman, military officials said. The attack was the first involving Danish troops since the protests flared … Afghan security forces opened fire on demonstrators Monday, leaving at least four dead, as increasingly violent protests erupted around the world over published caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. European and Muslim politicians pleaded for calm. The worst of the violence was outside Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, with Afghan police firing on some 2,000 protesters as they tried to break into the heavily guarded facility, said Kabir Ahmed, the local government chief … In Somalia, hundreds of protesters threw stones at police and aid workers after attending a peaceful rally in the northern port city of Bossaso, sparking the stampede in which a teenage boy was killed, said businessman Mohamed Ahmed, a witness. Officials could not be reached for comment."

DUBAI — Gulf News (Independent), United Arab Emirates, Feb. 6: "The anger over the cartoon portrayals of Muhammad is understandable," write the editors. "However, the burning of Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon is unacceptable. We cannot defend the prophet by such violence. The Syrian and Lebanese governments must fulfill their obligations to protect the rights of foreigners as well."

JIDDA — Arab News (Pro-government), Saudi Arabia, Feb. 6: "Muslims are not doing enough to stop the aggression of Western countries, shown by the incident of the Muhammad cartoons. This aggression stems from their weakness," writes Amr Al-Faisal. He proposes a gradual boycott of Western economies coupled with increased self-reliance on Muslim manufacturing capacity. This gives the West time to reconsider and capitulate as well.

DOHA — Aljazeeranet (Online publication), Qatar, Feb. 6: "Iran's largest selling newspaper has announced it is holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad … 'It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust,' Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper, which is published by Tehran's conservative-run municipality, said on Monday … Mortazavi said Tuesday's edition of the paper will invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with 'private individuals' offering gold coins to the best 12 artists — the same number of cartoons that appeared in the conservative Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten … He said the plan was to turn the tables on the assertion that newspapers can print offensive material in the name of freedom of expression."

JERUSALEM — The Jerusalem Post (Conservative), Israel, Feb. 6: "A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization, the Arab European League (A.E.L.), posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its Web site on Saturday in response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that appeared in Danish papers last year … One of the A.E.L. cartoons reportedly displayed an image of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred … The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which over the years has often protested anti-Semitic political cartoons in the Islamic world, stayed true to its policy regarding the Danish newspaper cartoon controversy and refused to issue a response. One ministry official said that the 'cartoon wars' were not Israel's battle, and that it did not want to get dragged into it. If Israel would react to the whole controversy, the official said, the Islamic world would eventually blame Israel for being behind the whole incident … In a statement released on Friday, the Anti-Defamation League said the fact that despicable anti-Jewish caricatures appear daily in newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world has been overlooked in the whole controversy … The statement also said that the Anti-Defamation League was 'opposed to any religious, racial and ethnic stereotyping in the media,' and found 'some of the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten … troubling, particularly the direct linkage of Muhammad and violence.' "

BEIRUT — The Daily Star (Independent), Lebanon, Feb. 6: "The E.U.'s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, condemned on Sunday the violence against Europeans in protests against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying it went against Islam's image as a peaceful religion … Solana also 'condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence and threats leveled against European citizens and interests in Syria and Lebanon and other countries in the region' … U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed for calm. 'The secretary general is alarmed by the threats and violence, including the attacks on embassies that have occurred in Syria and Lebanon and other countries over the past few days,' a statement attributed to Annan, issued by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said. 'While he shares the distress felt by many Muslims at the publication of caricatures which they see as insulting to their religion, he wishes to emphasize that such resentment cannot justify violence, least of all when directed at people who have no responsibility for, or control over, the publications in question' … Austria, the current holder of the rotating E.U. presidency, said in a statement late Saturday that the attacks 'can by no means be legitimized and are utterly unacceptable.' The British government also condemned the attacks. 'The violence now, particularly the burning of Danish missions abroad, is absolutely outrageous and totally unjustified.' "