Papers republish Mohammed cartoon in wake of murder plot

14th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The suspects in the plot were arrested earlier in the week.

Copenhagen -- The Danish Foreign Ministry had no immediate reports of increased tension in Muslim countries in the wake of the republication of a controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban.

Leading Danish newspapers Wednesday published the cartoon, a day after police said they had averted an alleged plot to kill Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Westergaard's cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban was one of 12 cartoons published in September 2005 by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. The cartoons sparked violent protests in 2006 and Danish companies were boycotted in many Muslim countries.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper reprinted the cartoon in its paper and on its website, as did rivals Politiken and Berlingske Tidende and the Sydsvenska Dagbladet in neighbouring Sweden.

Berlingske Tidende did not publish any of the cartoons in 2006, but editor-in-chief Lisbeth Knudsen said the decision to print the cartoon Wednesday was necessary to show its readers the cartoon and defend freedom of speech, saying threats were "unacceptable."

"It is appalling that as a reward, a man who to the best of his ability goes about his work and carries it out in accordance with Danish law, the Danish media ethics code and Danish media traditions was demonized and had his life threatened," Carsten Juste, editor-in- chief of Jyllands-Posten, said in a statement.

Danish police Tuesday said they had arrested three men over the alleged murder plot. One was a Moroccan-born Danish national who was released after questioning while two Tunisian nationals risked deportation.

A debate raged Wednesday among lawyers and politicians about the rights of the Tunisian nationals to defend themselves in court against the allegations.

The Islamic Society in Denmark that groups many Muslims said the group feared unrest in the wake of how the Tunisians were treated.

In Sweden, police were reported to have found a map of artist Lars Vilks's house in connection with a probe last November.

Vilks was at the centre of controversy after depicting the prophet as a dog last year. He was placed under police protection and moved to a secret location after a series of threats.

The editor of the regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda that published the cartoon along with an editorial on freedom of speech and religion was also threatened.

DPA with Expatica

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