#2. Depiction of Muhammad
This entry is not a specific photograph, but rather the overall depiction of Muhammad. On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial (political) cartoons that depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad in various situations. The headline of the cartoons read: “Muhammeds ansigt” (The face of Muhammad). The cartoons were drawn by 12 professional cartoonists in Denmark, most of who regularly worked for the newspaper. After the cartoons were published, Islamic protests erupted across the Muslim world with more than 100 reported deaths. The Danish embassy in Pakistan was bombed and embassies in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran were fire bombed. Muslims stormed European buildings and burned the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French, and German flags in Gaza City. The newspaper announced that the cartoons were an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. Further examples of the drawings were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 countries, which further deepened the controversy. Critics of the cartoons have described them as racist and hurtful to the Muslim faith. Supporters claim the cartoons illustrate an important issue of terrorism and are a legitimate exercise of free speech. Many people in the Western world feel that Muslims were not targeted in a way different from other religions, since unflattering cartoons about Jesus and Gautama Buddha are often published. The entire issue was covered in two separate episodes of South Park, which is notorious for depictions of Jesus. Apparently, Comedy Central has been hesitant to allow images of Muhammad to be shown on the network since the riots and threats generated from the controversial cartoons. After Muhammad was heavily featured in the South Park episode 200, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone received death threats from the Revolution Muslim organization. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has described the Muhammad cartoon controversy as Denmark’s worst international crisis since World War II.