Danish Muslims have condemned one of the country’s most prominent newspapers for publishing drawings of the prophet Muhammad.
A group of 16 Muslim organizations has accused the Jyllands-Posten newspaper of acting provocatively and insulting Muslim sensibilities because it printed 12 drawings of the prophet by Danish cartoonists, according to a report by news service Al-Jazeera.
The newspaper urged cartoonists to send in the drawings, after an author complained that nobody would illustrate his book on Muhammad because they feared attack by extremist Muslim elements.
Most Muslim leaders agree it is against Islamic law to draw pictures of the prophet. Such images are discouraged because they can lead to idolatry.
Twelve artists sent in drawings of “Muhammad,” including one who presented a cartoon of small Danish boy named Muhammad, writing in Arabic letters on a blackboard that ‘Jyllands-Posten’s journalists are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs.’ All the pictures were published.
One Danish imam demanded an apology from the newspaper, but it refused, citing freedom of speech.
Flemming Rose, cultural editor, denied the newspaper was being provocative. Instead, the call for pictures was a reaction to the rising number of situations in which artists and writers censure themselves out of fear of radical Islamists, he said, according to Jyllands-Posten.
“Religious feelings cannot demand special treatment in a secular society,” he added.
The newspaper reported getting threats over the issue and said it had consulted police.
Denmark is home to about 150,000 Muslims, representing 2.8 per cent of the country’s population.
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