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Muhammad Cartoons Cause Anger in Islamic World

The center-right Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten,
in September of 2005, published 12 satirical caricatures of Islam's
prophet Muhammad. According to the paper, the media was practicing
self-censorship when it came to things related to Muslims. As a result,
the Jyllands-Posten asked several caricaturists to send in drawings that depict Muhammad. Recently, the same cartoons were reprinted in other European newspapers, such as the Norwegian Magazinet, the French France Soir, and the German Die Welt.







The
original publication and the reprinting of the cartoons sparked great
anger amongst Muslims. There are many reasons for this, ranging from
Islamic tradition to the nature of the images themselves. Islamic
tradition opposes the depiction of either Allah or Muhammad.
Furthermore, because of the satirical nature of the cartoons, many
Muslims view them as being disrespectful to their religion and even
promoting Islamophobia. For example, one cartoon portrays Muhammad as
wearing a bomb with a burning fuse in his turban, while another one
shows Muhammad meeting suicide bombers in heaven, saying,
"Stop,
stop, we have run out of virgins!" These were seen, by many, as
portraying Muslims in general as terrorists and promoting hatred and
fear of Muslims.







Muslim
responses to the cartoons varied. Some national governments called for
the boycotting of Danish goods and decreasing oil exports, while
militant groups called for violence. Some countries also pulled out
their ambassadors to Denmark. The printing of the cartoons in the South
Africa’s Sunday newspapers was also banned by a South African court.
There have been demonstrations, some of which erupted into violence. In
Damascus, Syria both the Danish and the Norwegian embassies were set on
fire by angry protestors. Clashes with the police also occurred at the
French embassy. In Gaza, Palestinians burned flags of European nations
and caused damage to buildings. Some Muslims are also calling for
apologies from the Danish government.



Anger
also spread to Europe. Confrontations occurred between young Muslims
and police in the Danish capital, while in London, many rallied outside
the Danish embassy.







The
Danish Prime Minister, despite the protests, has so far refused to
apologize, stating that doing so would be a violation of freedom of
speech. However, other European leaders have tried to pacify the
situation. The German Chancellor, despite saying that the violence is
not justified, has stated that she realizes Muslims were hurt by the
cartoons. The Vatican has also criticized the violence but also
criticized the cartoons for offending to religious sentiments.



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