Yale University Press has come under fire recently for deciding to omit controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad from a scholarly book, reports Times Online. The book analyzes the global reaction to the cartoons, which were originally printed in a Danish newspaper and prompted intense debate and protests around the world.
The 12 cartoons included images of Mohammad, which is prohibited in Islam, and were considered especially offensive for portraying the Prophet as a terrorist.
Yale has defended its decision, saying in a press release that, "The original publication in 2005 of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad led to a series of violent incidents, and repeated violent acts have followed republication ... More than two hundred lives have been lost, and hundreds more have been injured."
The press release continues by noting that the University "consulted both domestic and international experts ... [including] counterterrorism officials," ambassadors, Muslim officials, and scholars of Islam.
The author of the book, Jytte Klausen, submitted it for publication including the cartoons (and other images of Mohammad), but the University opted to edit them out, according to the press release.
"My book is an academic book with footnotes and the notion that it would set off civil war in Nigeria is laughable," Klausen told Times Online. In the book, Klausen claims that the protests in the wake of the original cartoons "were orchestrated by extremists" hoping to undermine organized governments.
Klausen insists Yale is blowing the projected reaction to the book out of proportion, and that, "the book's message is that we need to calm down and look at this carefully."
Klausen also told the Yale Daily News "that the experts were never actually shown in the context of the book and were instead just shown the cartoons on their own." She adds that she has "a reputation as a fair and sympathetic observer," and that "the purpose was to print the entire page from the newspaper" where the cartoons originally printed.
Yale Daily News goes on to refer to an opinion piece in the New York Post calling Yale "cowardly" and "shameful," and a statement by the American Association of University Professors saying they "deplore [Yale's] decision and its potential consequences."
Scholar Martin Kramer shares this view, writing on his blog that he is skeptical reprinting the cartoons would instigate violence elsewhere. Kramer also points out that part of the reason the American people are willing to undergo fairly extreme measures aimed at preventing attacks (such as restricted visas and airport searches) is so that "a university press can publish the Danish cartoons in a book about the Danish cartoons, and do so without fear."
"Given a choice between undergoing a baggage search and muzzling themselves, Americans prefer the former," Kramer continues.
The book, titled The Cartoons that Shook the World, is slated to be published in November, according to the Yale Daily News.