A Saudi lawyer wants a public apology from several Danish newspapers that reprinted a cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed in February 2008, but the papers say no apology will be coming.
Attorney Faisal A.Z. Yamani says he has been contacted by 'several thousand descendants of the Prophet' is thus he is demanding a front page apology to be printed on the Danish newspapers that reprinted Kurt Westergaard's cartoon in Danish, English, French and Arabic by the end of September, which depicts an image of their Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.
Jørn Mikkelsen, editor of Jyllands Posten newspaper, which originally published the cartoons in 2005, said Yamani shouldn't hold his breath.
'Our answer is the same now as before and we have absolutely no reason to apologize. The prophet drawings are covered by Danish law and tradition and represented a journalistic project that started a debate on the freedom of speech,' said Mikkelsen.
Yamani's letter asks the apology , or further legal action would be taken.
More than 5 Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoons in February 2008 after police foiled a plot on the life of Westergaard.
Meanwhile, Yale University Press was getting ready to publish a book, "The Cartoons that Shook the World" by Jytte Klausen, a Danish born political scientist at Brandeis University, but the Press just announced the book will be missing a key element: The cartoons that shook the world.
Yale University Press said in a statement that it will refrain printing the image of Westergaard's character.
Yale University Press will publish The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, this November. The Press hopes that her excellent scholarly treatment of the Danish cartoon controversy will be read by those seeking deeper understanding of its causes and consequences.
After careful consideration, the Press has declined to reproduce the September 30, 2005, Jyllands-Posten newspaper page that included the cartoons, as well as other depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that the author proposed to include.
The original publication in 2005 of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad led to a series of violent incidents, and repeated violent acts have followed republication as recently as June 2008, when a car bomb exploded outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing eight people and injuring at least thirty. The next day Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing, calling it revenge for the "insulting drawings."
Republication of the cartoons—not just the original printing of them in Denmark—has repeatedly resulted in violence around the world. More than two hundred lives have been lost, and hundreds more have been injured. It is noteworthy that, at the time of the initial crisis over the cartoons in 2005–2006, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe declined to print them, as did every major newspaper in the United Kingdom.
The publishing of the book raised the obvious question of whether there remains a serious threat of violence if the cartoons were reprinted in the context of a book about the controversy. The Press asked the University for assistance on this question.
The University consulted both domestic and international experts on behalf of the Press. Among those consulted were counterterrorism officials in the United States and in the United Kingdom, U.S. diplomats who had served as ambassadors in the Middle East, foreign ambassadors from Muslim countries, the top Muslim official at the United Nations, and senior scholars in Islamic studies. The experts with the most insight about the threats of violence repeatedly expressed serious concerns about violence occurring following publication of either the cartoons or other images of the Prophet Muhammad in a book about the cartoons.
Ibrahim Gambari, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and senior adviser to the secretary-general, the highest ranking Muslim at the United Nations, stated, "You can count on violence if any illustration of the Prophet is published. It will cause riots I predict from Indonesia to Nigeria."
Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, dean of the under-secretaries-general, under-secretary-general of the United Nations, and special adviser to the secretary-general, informed us, "These images of Muhammad could and would be used as a convenient excuse for inciting violent anti-American actions."
John Negroponte, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, U.S. director of national intelligence, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq and other nations, said, "When Yale informed me of this challenging issue confronting the University Press earlier this summer, I advised that I had serious concerns about the Press publishing these cartoons. Given the history of this volatile issue—and my diplomatic experience, which included service in the Middle East—I believed that publishing the cartoons could very well result in violence of an unpredictable nature. I am aware of the expert counsel Yale received from well-placed diplomats, intelligence and law enforcement officials, and scholars in Islamic studies. I agree with the overwhelming majority of them. There existed an appreciable chance of violence occurring if these images were published by the Press. There is a clear track record of violence associated with the publication and republication of these images. This is more than a historical episode. The controversy continues, with violence occurring as recently as last year. Although the Danish cartoons crisis is certainly a topic worthy of scholarly analysis, Yale University Press had to walk a fine line, given the possibility that these images of the Prophet Muhammad risked perpetuating this violent controversy, as well as distracting readers from serious scholarship on this important subject."
Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs and chair of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale, said, "I agree completely with the other expert opinions Yale has received. If Yale publishes this book with any of the proposed illustrations, it is likely to provoke a violent outcry."
Given the quantity and quality of the expert advice Yale received, the author consented, with reluctance, to publish the book without any of these visual images.
Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult. The University has no speech code, and the response to "hate speech" on campus has always been the assertion that the appropriate response to hate speech is not suppression but more speech, leading to a full airing of views. The Press would never have reached the decision it did on the grounds that some might be offended by portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, Yale University Press has printed books in the past that included images of the Prophet. The decision rested solely on the experts' assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.
The book will appear with a note from Klausen, who says Yale's decision is a violation of academic freedom and a case of "anticipatory fear on the part of the university of consequences that it only dimly perceives."
The Boston Globe reports that in her book, Klausen concludes much of the violence had to do with manufactured anti-Western political goals more than it had to do with the cartoon itself.