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Jordanian parliament calls for Danish cartoonists to be punished

Regional, Religion, 1/30/2006

Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about the Jordanian parliament's call on this week for the punishment of the cartoonist who drew 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in the Danish daily "Jyllands-Posten" on 30 September 2005 and were reprinted in the Norwegian publication "Magazinet" on 10 January.

"Islam forbids any representation of the Prophet and we realize that these cartoons may upset some people, but it is not acceptable for the parliament of a supposedly democratic country to call for the cartoonists to be punished," the press freedom organisation said.

"Those who so desire may bring a complaint against the newspaper, but politicians should under no circumstances call for direct reprisals against journalists," Reporters Without Borders continued. "The cartoonists have already received death threats and these new statements put them in further danger."

In a 24 January statement, the Jordanian parliament said the cartoons "constitute a cowardly and reprehensible crime" and urged the Norwegian and Danish authorities "to express their condemnation and disapproval of this hateful crime and to punish the perpetrators and instigators."

It also called on "parliaments, governments and civil society organizations in the Muslim world to take a firm position on this evil, which strikes at the sentiments of the Arab-Muslim nation."

"Jyllands-Posten" editor Carsten Juste received several death threats after he published the cartoons last September and hired bodyguards to protect his journalists. The two threatened cartoonists were forced to go into hiding. Similar threats have been made against "Magazinet" since it republished them two weeks ago.

Leading Muslim clerics living in Denmark called the cartoons an insult to Islam and its Prophet and on 6 October asked "Jyllands-Posten" for a formal apology. Juste refused, saying "we live in a democracy where satire and caricature are generally well accepted and where religion should not pose any limits on this." Around 5,000 Muslims protested on the streets of Copenhagen on 14 October against the "provocative" and "arrogant" cartoons.

A total of 11 ambassadors from Muslim countries so far have requested an interview with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss the issue, but he continues to refuse to receive them, stressing his country's commitment to press freedom. In his New Year's message, he described freedom of expression as "vital," "absolute" and "non-negotiable." But he also condemned "any form of expression, action or signs that tended to demonize a group of people on the basis of their religion."

Reporters Without Borders said an agreement was reached between Denmark and the Arab League on 5 January not to pursue the controversy any further.



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved