If someone were to pick up a copy of Prof. Jytte Klausen's (POL) new book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, he might expect to see the said cartoons that supposedly shook the world. However, these cartoons, as well as any sort of supplementary images, are conspicuously absent.
The Cartoons That Shook the World, which was published in October, chronicles the influence of cartoons from an article from the Danish newspaper The Jutland Post titled "The face of Muhammad." Images from "The face of Muhammad" include cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad dressed in a bomb-shaped turban as well as several caricatures' of the Muslim holy figure. The cartoons, which were published in September 2005, prompted violent demonstrations led by various Islamic groups across Europe, Asia and Africa several months later. These protests led to the deaths of over 100 people and caused Danish embassies in Lebanon, Iran and Syria to be set on fire.
"There's a big difference between saying that the cartoons caused all these things to happen and that the cartoons were used in the context in which all these horrible things happened," Klausen said. "One hundred seventy five people died in Nigeria in which the cartoons were mentioned, but it was really a civil war that was going on. … There were more important issues."
Klausen, who is Danish and knew many of the Danish actors involved in the cartoons, wrote the book as part of an investigative project. She said that she started the book in early 2006, right when the protests against the cartoons peaked. Klausen also knew several of the Muslim leaders involved in the protest from working on her previous book, The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe.
"I wanted to find out what happened in between [the publication of the cartoons and the protests], ... what were the sources of the protest and how could we trace those sources," said Klausen, who has been a professor of comparative politics at Brandeis for 17 years.
However, when Klausen brought her book to Yale University Press to be published, Yale decided to have the images of the 12 cartoons, as well as other images of Muhammad in the book, reviewed by experts. In the end, Yale decided not to publish the images.
John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, discussed including the cartoons in the book with counterterrorism officials, diplomats and Muslim United Nations officials. Donatich told the New York Times that the Press's decision regarding the publication of the cartoons was "overwhelming and unanimous." Yale was afraid that republishing the images might cause further protests and violence from the Islamic world.
However, according to Klausen, the decision was not unanimous. "John Donatich used the term unanimous, and he realized he had misspoken afterward and sent me a message. The book was also reviewed by four expert reviewers who were asked if the cartoons should be in book, and they said they should," explained Klausen.
Charles Radin, director of global operations and communications at Brandeis, who has been handling all the media requests that Klausen has been receiving, also confirmed that "at least one of the people who gave an opinion said that she did not agree."
"After Yale sought some opinions of these cartoons and [Klausen] demanded to see what the people who [Yale] sought opinions from had to say, they said they wouldn't show them to her unless she promised not to reveal who the people were," said Radin. The result has been described as a "gag order."
Klausen said that she believes Yale University Press wanted all images of Muhammad removed, not just the cartoons, because "[they have] become very politicized. [They've] become a lens in the West for speaking about what Muslims want or do not want-regard we should pay to not just Islam but all religious prohibitions," said Klausen.
Additionally, Yale sent the cartoons out to be reviewed without sending the book along with them. In this way, Klausen believes Yale did not provide proper context for the book.
"I think it's a mistake to send out illustrations about an academic book without sending the book. I would say the experts were not fully informed about a book they were asked to have an opinion about. It's as if we're in the Cold War, but we're not in a war," Klausen said.
Yale University Press officially refused to print the controversial Danish Muhammad cartoons because "[they] are freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words, so reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous," saidDonatich.
Klausen contends that republishing the cartoons now would be harmless, since the goal of the book is to explain why the cartoons were controversial. However, Klausen also said she knew that the images would be controversial but thought that the book would be a forum to discuss their implications in a neutral and calm way.
Radin also said the book has been getting attention and coverage from not only American papers but also United Arab Emirates papers, the London Times and even journalist and religious skeptic Christopher Hitchens, all centered around the cartoon debates.
Some members of Brandeis' faculty agreed that the images in Klausen's book should have been published. Chair of the Politics department Prof. Steven Burg said, "Suppressing the publication of the cartoons was an act of self-censorship under pressure of fear of acts of relation."
Radin explained that fear: "The impression that comes out of much of the media accounts is that they were security consultants who [did not] read the book but just looked at the cartoons. To consider it that way doesn't look at the context or the academic mission."
Donatich confirmed to the Boston Globe that "it became a security issue and not a censorship issue."
Burg believes that the information that the book provides should be of greater importance than the consequences the cartoons may cause.
"While judgments about the probable consequences of publication may reasonably differ, the work itself is serious scholarship intended for a serious audience," Burg said.
Politics student Nathan Koskella '13 also believes that the decision to remove the images from the book is an act of censorship.
"I think that there need to be pictures in the text to refer to," Koskella said.
While Radin contends that Klausen's book is still effective in its message, he worries that it is not as effective as it could have been.
"It's a good, strong, solid piece of scholarship, but I don't see how anyone could argue that it could be as effective without the images," Radin said. "Part of the reason of the book [was written was to see what the] controversy really was about. [Klausen] basically says [that] if [she were] was teaching a course on sex education [she] would expect people to be able to look in a straightforward and educated motivated way at how [things] look. ... It would be silly to teach a course like that without having illustrations."
-Rebecca Klein contributed reporting.