Jan M. Olsen, AP, Jan. 9, 2006
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A regional prosecutor said he would not file charges against a newspaper that published contentious caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, and Danish Muslim groups said Monday they would appeal.
“We cannot understand the decision,” said Ahmad Akkari, a spokesman for a coalition of 11 community groups, adding that they would take their complaints to Denmark’s top prosecutor.
He said the 12 caricatures, published Sept. 30 in the Jyllands-Posten daily, were a “clear offense to Islam.”
State prosecutor Peter Broendt Joergensen said Saturday the drawings were protected by Denmark’s freedom of speech laws and did not violate bans on racism and blasphemy.
Egypt has been spearheading foreign criticism of Denmark over the cartoons. While Egypt “respects freedom of opinion and expression, we also realize the borders which must never be crossed,” Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency quoted Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit as saying Monday after he was informed of the prosecutor’s decision by his Danish counterpart.
Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet, even respectful ones, out of concern that such images could lead to idolatry.
The dispute has created a backlash against Danish Muslim groups, who critics say blew the matter out of proportion by asking Muslim countries to pressure the Danish government to act against the paper.
In her weekly newsletter, Pia Kjaersgaard, the leader of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, accused some Danish Muslim leaders of conducting a “defamation campaign against the country they live in.”
(Below are the cartoons that caused all the fuss.)