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Danish Book Reprints Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

Wednesday, 29 Sep 2010 02:34 PM

The Danish editor whose 2005 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad sparked violent protests around the globe released a book on Wednesday that reprints the pictures and warns of a "tyranny of silence."

Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of the 12 drawings in Jyllands-Posten which blew up the following year into a global "cartoon crisis." Dozens of people were killed in clashes, mainly in the Middle East.

Flemming Rose's book "The Tyranny of Silence" has fed worries of renewed unrest, as after the 2008 reprinting of the cartoons by many papers after a death threat to cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen met 17 ambassadors from Muslim countries on Wednesday as part of efforts to prevent any new cartoon crisis and foster understanding.

"The violence was committed by people who made a decision to react to these cartoons in a specific way," said Rose, who has lived for years under police protection because of threats against him and his paper Jyllands-Posten.

"To publish cartoons, religious satire, in a Danish newspaper is not incitation to violence," he said.

Most Muslims consider depictions of the founder of Islam offensive, and one cartoon showing the prophet with a bomb in his turban was found especially insulting.

Rose said he did not regret initiating publication of the cartoons in 2005 to begin a debate on freedom of expression in Denmark.

But he added: "Of course, I do believe that no cartoon is worth a single human life — unfortunately, there are some other people who think otherwise."

Rose said that avoiding offence by banning satire against religions — an approach he dubbed "You respect my taboo, and I'll respect yours" —would lead to oppressive silence.

Instead, he urged minimum limits to freedom of expression to ensure peace and fundamental freedoms. "And I believe that that limit is incitement to violence," he said.

The book launch came a day after police said a Kurd in Norway admitted to plotting an attack on Jyllands-Posten and two weeks after police said the daily was the probable target of a would-be bomber in Copenhagen.

Westergaard, who drew the bomb in the prophet's turban, escaped an attack by a man with an ax in his home in January, and aims to publish an autobiography in November. 

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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