Citing consultations with experts who promised renewed riots if the infamous Mohammad cartoons were republished, Yale University Press has cut the 12 drawings from Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen's forthcoming "The Cartoons that Shook the World."
Yale consulted 24 experts, "including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism," who unanimously recommended that the university cut the drawings, the New York Times reports. Futhermore, they recommended that Yale not publish any other images of Muhammad, some hundreds of years old, that Klausen was going to include. Yale agreed.
The cartoons are freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words, [Yale University Press Director John] Donatich said, so reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.
Gregg and I were puzzled by that statement. If the cartoons are easily accessible online, wouldn't that argue for inclusion in the book? To me, Yale's acquiescence indicates just how much the Western world remains in thrall to fundamentalist Muslim extremists. As Reza Aslan, the author of "No god but God," told the Times, "There were people who were annoyed [in the United States], and what kind of publishing house doesn't publish something that annoys some people?...There is no chance of this book having a global audience, let alone causing a global outcry...It's not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary."
After the cartoons were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, Muslims across the world rioted, protesting what they saw as blasphemous portrayals of the revered founder of their religion. One Web site that tracked the protests estimates that more than 100 people have died as a result of the furor - most of them protesters themselves.Nobody, not the author nor the publishing house, wants blood on their hands. Still, I would argue that the violence would not be Yale's fault, but rather the fault of radicals with medieval religious views who refuse to adapt to the modern world. Granted, there are other factors swirling that provoke anti-Western anger in the Muslim world, but nothing that justifies such violence. And in this case, as Aslan argued, it's highly unlikely that an academic book would provoke riots.