Four years after a Danish newspaper triggered Muslim anger and violence by publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, fresh controversy has erupted pitting an academic and free speech advocates against a US university publisher.
Yale University Press's refusal to reprint the original newspaper page as well as other historical images of the Prophet has upset Jytte Klausen, author of The Cartoons that Shook the World, a scholarly book examining the politics and consequences of the affair.
Ms Klausen, a Danish-born professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts who is widely viewed as respectful towards Muslims, said she understood Yale's reluctance to be seen as provoking violence, but it had overreacted in not publishing Ottoman and other Muslim-world images of the Prophet. Her previous book examining Muslim communities in Europe had contained such historical depictions without drawing any Muslim protest.
She travelled widely around the Islamic world meeting imams and other leaders to research her new book. But the latest debate threatened to place her in an unsought alliance with strident pro-free speech critics who view all Muslims as only able to respond with violence to perceived insults.
The Danish cartoons, published in September 2005 by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, are available on the internet but have since sparked little of the anger seen some months after their original publication in Denmark.
Although one of the cartoons showed the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban, Ms Klausen said many others did not even show him and some made fun of the newspaper. Regardless, she did not intend to republish the cartoons as single images but rather the whole newspaper page that contained them to provide context for her book.
"The book is like a detective story and follows many different leads in what became a diplomatic crisis, even a unique crisis. It was government crisis, rather than an interfaith crisis, because of the war on terror," she said. About 200 people died in cartoons-related protests but Ms Klausen's book contends that many of the victims were in such places as Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria and Pakistan where conflict already existed and local leaders were more able to manufacture protest.
"Six months after the cartoons were published, they became symbols in the Muslim world of what was wrong with the West. Surveys showed that more than 90 per cent of people in Jordan, Egypt and the Emirates had heard about the cartoons," she said. "But much of the violence was wrapped up in local protests against the government."
Another consequence of the cartoons affair examined by Ms Klausen is an Arab League charter, which in 2008 restricted satellite television channels from broadcasting content disrespectful of religious figures or persons in authority.
Yale University Press sought opinion on whether to publish images of the Prophet from security experts and scholars of Islam, a majority of whom said publication risked further violence.
The Yale press and university said in a statement it remained committed to freedom of speech and expression but not publishing the images did not constitute censorship because original material was not suppressed. "I would never have agreed to censor original content," said John Donatich, director of Yale University Press.
One Muslim scholar said Ms Klausen risked becoming embroiled in a simplistic debate just as the original cartoons were.
"It's sad and a little ironic that after writing a book about the caricatures of the Prophet, peace be upon him, she risks being caricatured herself," Tarek Masoud, an assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and a peer reviewer of the book, told The Boston Globe. "She is a serious scholar with tremendous respect for Islam and Muslims and I hope this will not be lost in this controversy."
Ms Klausen was also perturbed when Yale demanded she sign a confidentiality agreement before reading the recommendations of the experts who advised against the images' publication. Although she understood their desire for confidentiality, she did not want to be prohibited from discussing their conclusions and refused to sign what she called a "gag order".
Some of the consultants have since come forward publicly, including Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek columnist and member of Yale's governing board, who believed the publisher was "confronted with a clear threat of violence and loss of life".
Ms Klausen said Muslims were more than capable of deciding for themselves if images of the Prophet were disrespectful or promoted idolatry if they also saw the context. She gave as an example an image of Mohammed contained in a frieze on the US Supreme Court. A fatwa from the Al Azhar Islamic university in Cairo said the image was acceptable because the Prophet was being celebrated for his status as a statesman and legislator, she said.
She noted that Yale had brought forward to next week the publication of her book, which she hoped would allow more people to find out for themselves that she did not intend to stir up controversy for its own sake or to insult Muslims.
"I've had no angry e-mails from any Muslim and nor has Yale so far," she said.