Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 14, 2005

Danish Paper Condemned for Cartoons

The highest circulation paper in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, has come under fire from Muslim groups both in-country and abroad for the depiction of Mohammed in 12 cartoons, cartoons solicited by the paper in order to make a point about drawing pictures of Mohammed despite pressure from Muslim groups. An example can be found here. According to a follow-up report, the paper has received threats and hired extra security.

The story is all context, and needs to be understood as the newest permutation of that country's -- that region's -- ongoing public struggle with its Muslim minority, which in Denmark is 2.8 percent of the country's 5.4 million residents. As this right-leaning perspective list of problems from a few years back makes clear, things aren't settled -- there exist problems and then additional difficulties in deciding how to deal with those problems. Many cobservers feel the various Muslim minorities in that entire region have failed to assimilate into society to the point of abusing the welfare state, breaking hard against mainstream customs, and perhaps outright breaking the law through such acts as consistent threats against an even smaller Jewish minority, severe crimes against women, and violence against artists such as the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

As even the queen felt compelled to speak on the issue, it's no surprise that a paper would use the cartoon art form to draw a line in the sand about what it should be allowed and encouraged to do. I don't expect a formal retraction or apology any time soon.

Update -- Mr. Scott McCloud wrote in to point out some confusion between national and regional incidents; hopefully I've tweaked to reflect that.
posted 8:13 am PST | Permalink

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