Danish Drawings of Prophet Trigger Ethics Debate; Controversy Stirs Issue of Press Freedom, Sentiments of Muslims

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 3, 2006 | Go to article overview

Danish Drawings of Prophet Trigger Ethics Debate; Controversy Stirs Issue of Press Freedom, Sentiments of Muslims


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Twelve Danish editorial cartoons are challenging American journalism ethics: Should caricatures of Islam's prophet Muhammad be published in the name of press freedom or be censored to appease offended Muslims?

The pen and ink drawings have appeared in a dozen European newspapers, sparking riots and boycotts among Muslim populations both locally and in the Middle East.

The cartoons were politicized in the U.S. on Tuesday after former President Bill Clinton denounced them as appalling and outrageous.

Two were published by the New York Daily Sun yesterday. Online, one drawing appeared on the Drudge Report; all 12 ran at the Web sites of Front Page (www.frontpagemag.com) and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin (www.michellemalkin.com).

Mrs. Malkin challenged American editors to run the "forbidden" cartoons with her latest weekly column.

"This is a moment of global, historic importance," Mrs. Malkin said yesterday. "Anybody paying attention to the Islamic sensitivity police knows there is enormous pressure to self-censor. I am extremely disappointed in the cowardice among mainstream media outlets for declining to publish the cartoons, as if they were pornography. Free speech preachers should walk the walk - allowing the American public to see for themselves what the controversy is all about."

Ahmed Younis, of the District- and California-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, said of the cartoons, "This type of hate-mongering only fuels the propaganda of the terrorists," while further "disenfranchising" Muslim moderates. Islam forbids any depiction of Muhammad.

James Zogby, president of the District-based Arab-American Institute, categorized European press coverage of the cartoons as irresponsible and provocative.

"The way it's being handled is not as a freedom of the press issue," said Mr. Zogby, who is a Christian.

"Should we be provoking people in a period such as the one we are in? …

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