Yale University Press has banned the scheduled publication of a book that includes 12 cartoons spoofing Mohammed which appeared in a Danish newspaper four years ago. Its decision also affects any future pictures of Mohammed after consultations with Muslim clerics, diplomats and counterterrorism officials.
After the initial appearance of the cartoons, which are available on the Internet, violent Muslim protests resulted in several deaths and widespread riots. The book, authored by Brandeis University professor and Danish native Jytte Klausen, originally was entitled "The 12 Little Drawings that Shook the World: The Danish Cartoons and the Clash of Civilization."
The Yale Press rejected the title as being too sensational, and afterwards it ruled that the book could not include the cartoons or even pictures of Mohammed, in deference to some Muslim clerics who rule against the practice.
Several of the proposed pictures included an Ottoman period print and a sketch by a 19th century artist showing Mohammed being tormented in hell. The Koran does not prohibit depicting his picture, which is shown in many Islamic history books.
Yale defended its ban as not violating freedom of expression, which it said is overruled by a fear of violence. "All confirmed that the re-publication of the cartoons by the Yale University Press ran a serious risk of instigating violence, and nearly all advised that publishing other illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad (sic) in the context of this book about the Danish cartoon controversy raised similar risk," the university statement said.
Cary Nelson, head of the American Association of University Professors, condemned the decision, which he said was not a reaction to violence but an anticipation of it. "What is to stop publishers from suppressing an author's words if it appears they may offend religious fundamentalists or groups threatening violence?" Nelson asked.