In September, Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). The drawings portrayed the prophet as a terrorist with one showing the Prophet (pbuh) wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. The cartoons infuriated the Muslim world
The Copenhagen Post claimed that Jyllands-Posten printed the cartoons by various Danish illustrators, after reports that artists were refusing to illustrate works about Islam, out of fear of fundamendalist retribution. Jyllands-Posten said it printed the cartoons as a test of whether Muslim fundamentalists had affected Danish freedom of expression.
But the repercussions have started, unfortunately for some innocents. Masked Islamist gunmen had seized an EU office in Gaza City to protest the blasphemy. Meanwhile in Iraq, an insurgent group has called for attacks on Danish and Norwegian targets. It seems a Norwegian paper has also published the drawings. The Danish Red Cross evacuated two of its employees from Gaza and one from Yemen after receiving death threats.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its envoy from Denmark and so has Libya. Sudan cancelled an official visit to Denmark. Thousands of Palestinians marched in protest against the insult to the Prophet (pbuh). Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades has demanded that all Danes and Swedes leave Palestine immediately. Hamas urged Muslim countries to take ‘deterrent steps against idiotic Danish behaviour.’
Most Arab countries have been boycotting Danish goods since the publication. Across the Gulf, several supermarkets removed Scandinavian foods off the shelves. The biggest loser is likely to be the Danish-Swedish dairy product maker Arla Foods, with its annual sales of US$487 million in the Middle East. The world's biggest maker of insulin, Novo Nordisk, has also been affected.
Arla Foods reported that two of its employees in Saudi Arabia were beaten by angry customers. Denmark has already warned its citizens to avoid Saudi Arabia. Arla Foods has suffered enormous losses since the Arab boycott, and has called upon the Danish government to apologise. Arla Foods said a boycott of its products in the Middle East was almost total. Its executive director Peder Tuborgh said:
"I urgently beg the government to enter a positive dialogue with the many millions of Muslims who feel they have been offended by Denmark. Freedom of expression is an internal Danish issue but this has a totally different dimension. This is about Denmark having offended millions of Muslims."
But the government said it cannot apologise on behalf of a newspaper, for the reason that in Denmark, independent media cannot be edited by the government and must therefore bear responsibility for its faux pas.
However, Prime Minister, Fogh Rasmussen gave his private opinion: "I personally have such a respect for people's religious belief that I personally never would have depicted Mohammad, Jesus or any other religious character in a way that could offend other people."
Finally, after earlier defiance, Jyllands-Posten has issued an apology to the world's Muslims for the insensitive cartoons of an Islamic Prophet (pbuh).
It could well be a case of too little too late. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has responded to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) by appointing two UN experts on racism to carry out a detailed investigation into the Danish newspaper's 'disrespect for belief.'
KTemoc has no intention of publishing those offensive caricatures. Warning - Those cartoons are offensive to Muslims but those who are able to view them as nothing more than, in the words of Hamas, some Danish foolhardy idiocy, can see them on Newspaperlink.com.