Westergaard’s caricature of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban was published today by Politiken, Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten. Westergaard was among 12 artists whose cartoons of Muhammad were printed in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten, prompting protests in Muslim communities worldwide.
Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, PET, detained two Tunisians and a 40-year-old Dane with a Moroccan background yesterday, saying they planned to murder Westergaard, 73. The efforts of a Danish Muslim delegation in the Middle East to draw attention to the cartoons’ publication in 2005 led to consumer boycotts of Danish goods and the torching of Danish embassies.
“It’s unacceptable that a Danish newspaper artist has apparently been the target of a murder plan by fanatical Muslims,” Berlingske said today in an editorial. The newspaper said it published the cartoon “to document what’s at stake in this case and as unambiguous support for the freedom of expression we all want to defend.”
The Foreign Ministry is following the situation “very closely,” consular department head Uffe Wolffhechel told Denmark’s Ritzau newswire. “We’re ready to respond in light of what we observe.”
Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller in February 2006 called the violent reactions to the cartoons “the worst foreign policy crisis Denmark has experienced since World War II.”
The regional newspaper Fyns Stiftstidende and the free paper Nyhedsavisen also printed the cartoon today, according to their Web sites. Politiken had printed all 12 cartoons previously. It was the first time Berlingske printed one of the drawings.