The cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed (Peace Be Upon Him) are back in the news, refreshing the debates on the freedom of expression and the way it is observed within the Islamic context. One the one hand, descendants of the Prophet demand excuses for a republishing in 2008. One the other hand, Prof. Jytte Klausen wants to reproduce the original newspaper page and examples of earlier illustrations of the Prophetarguing that Muslims should not take an offence at her intended republishing in a clear "academic context" analyzing the reactions towards 2005's Danish cartoons crisis.
A Multi-Lingual Apology
The Saudi Arabian legal firm of A.Z. Yamani lawyers, purportedly acting on behalf of descendants of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), has recently demanded printed and multi-lingual  apologies from Danish newspapers who re-printed controversial cartoons of the Prophetin February 2008, as well as undertakings that all Internet pictures of the caricatures be removed in perpetuity. Faisal A.Z. Yamani claimed to have been contacted by "several thousand descendants of the Prophet," all of whom felt insulted and defamed by the reprinting of the cartoons.
The Danish Newspaper Association (Danske Dagblades Forening) says it doubts that newspapers will comply but it plans to contact the Danish foreign and justice ministries to discuss the issue.
Following the publication of the cartoons, the Danish government repeatedly refused to heed calls from the Muslim world for an apology citing freedom of expression.
Features' editor at Politiken newspaper, Anders Jerichow, said the lawyer appeared to be trying to stir up tensions. "Just let him. The majority of the Muslim world is taking it easy and so can we."
Muslims and Free Speech
The coming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World , by Jytte Klausen from Yale University Press, has already shed new light on the issue of Muslims' protest against "free speech" represented by the response to the cartoons, even before it has been published. It discusses the cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohamed that were published in the largest newspaper in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, late in 2005, touching off murderous rage from Muslims around the world. Such a book could be a useful exploration of the free speech issues that the cartoon controversy raised, but it is in itself controversial given the absence of the cartoons' illustrations.
Yet, after having consulted 24 "diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism,"  as well as other authorities and receiving the same recommendation that the book should not include the Mohamed cartoons, Yale University Press decided not to publish the cartoons' illustrations, in spite of the author's desire. John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, explained that "the cartoons are freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words," and thus "reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous." He said he had "never blinked" when publishing controversial material before, but"when it came between that and blood on my hands, there was no question."
How can the Europe, its non-Muslims and Muslims, respond to the anti-Islam insulting free speech incidents based on the previous experiences? Do you think that European Muslims can engage their resources in order to offer a correct image of the Prophet through calling for dialogue with those who attack Islam and Muslims or make use of their right of expression and speak up about their real challenges attempting solutions?
Is Yale University Press' decision not to include the cartoons illustrations in The Cartoons That Shook the World a promising concession to the Ummah, community of Muslims, a dangerous compromise for the freedom of expression, or just the safest approach?
Yamani's demand related to an incident in 2008 comes in a time when a new controversy regarding the cartons' republishing in this scholarly work is now stirring a row. Is it a simple coincidence or a subtle warning to those who still refer to the cartoons?