Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy  

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The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy (or Muhammad cartoons crisis) (Danish:Muhammedkrisen) began after 12 editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005. The newspaper announced that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. Muslim groups in Denmark complained and the issue eventually led to protests in many countries around the world, including some violent demonstrations and riots in some Islamic countries.

Danish Muslim organizations that objected to the depictions responded by petitioning the embassies of Islamic nations and the Danish government to take some form of action in reaction. Some Islamic organizations filed a judicial complaint against the newspaper, which was dismissed in January 2006. After the Danish government refused to meet with representatives of the Islamic countries and would not intervene in the case, a number of Danish imams made trips to the Middle East to raise awareness of the issue. The cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries over the following few months, further deepening the controversy, although the bulk of the reprints took place after the large-scale protests in January and February 2006.

After the issue received prominent media attention in some Islamic countries, Muslims held protests across the world in late January and early February 2006, some of which escalated into violence resulting in a total of more than 200 reported deaths, attacks on a number of Danish and other European diplomatic missions, attacks on churches and Christians, and a major international boycott. Various groups responded by endorsing the Danish policies, including "Buy Danish" campaigns and other displays of support. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark's worst international relations incident since the Second World War.

Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic, racist, or baiting and blasphemous to people of the Islamic faith, possibly intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or were a manifestation of ignorance about the history of Western imperialism. Supporters generally said that the publication of the cartoons was a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech whatever the validity of the expression itself and/or that it was important to be able to openly and frankly discuss Islam without fear. The controversy ignited a considerable debate regarding the limits of freedom of expression, religious tolerance, and the relationship of Muslim minorities with their broader societies in the West, as well as between the Islamic World in general and the West.


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