Four years ago on September 30, 2005, Jyllands-Posten published twelve drawings of Islam’s prophet Muhammed. To demonstrate that prohibition of any depiction of the prophet, as stipulated by sharia law would not trump Denmark’s freedom of the press, twelve cartoonists had their entries published.
Here they are:
Muslims around the world rioted in response. At least one hundred deaths were reported. The Danish embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran were torched. European buildings were stormed and the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, and German flags were desecrated in Gaza City. Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas issued death threats. Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic and racist, arguing they were blasphemous to Muslims and a manifestation of western imperialism. In 2008, slightly after two years of the initial publication, the cartoons were re-published. More riots ensued, complete with shouts of ” death to the cartoonist!”.
Meanwhile, thousands of illustrations of Muhammed have appeared in books by and for Muslims.
Persian or central Asian illustration showing Muhammed teaching.
Fourteenth-century Persian miniature
showing the Angel Gabriel speaking
Muhammed at Medina, from an
Arab or central Asian medieval-era
The Prophet Muhammed in a Mosque. Turkish, 16th Century, painting on paper. The artist depicted Muhammed in very long sleeves so as to avoid showing his hands, though his neck and hints of his features are visible. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Newly born Muhammad in his mother’s arms being shown to his grandfather and citizens of Mecca. From Turkish book painting (date unknown). University of California, San Diego.
James Cohen, vice president of the Canadian desk, IFPS writes thoughtfully and succinctly on the declaration of September 30 as International Free Press Day:
“To further advance the cause of freedom of the press, the International Free Press Society takes the occasion of this first International Free Press Day to salute Kurt Westergaard, and to call, once again, for the repeal all blasphemy and hate speech laws that currently inhibit and restrict vital exchange and debate”.