March 15, 2006

Danish prosecutor rejects newspaper cartoon suit

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark's public prosecutor decided
not to press charges on Wednesday against a newspaper for
violating Danish blasphemy law by printing 12 drawings of the
Prophet Mohammad which triggered widespread Muslim anger.

"I have today decided not to institute criminal proceedings
in the case of Jyllands-Posten's article 'The Face of
Mohammad', published on September 30," prosecutor Henning Fode
said in a statement.

Although the cartoons, one of them portraying the Prophet
with a turban shaped as a bomb, did not violate Danish law,
Fode said there was "no free and unrestricted right to express
opinions about religious subjects."

The caricatures, later reprinted elsewhere, provoked a
storm of protests among Muslims, who believe it is blasphemous
to depict the Prophet Mohammad. At least 50 people were killed
in protests in the Middle East and Asia, three Danish embassies
were attacked and many Muslims boycotted Danish goods.

When printing the drawings, Jyllands-Posten -- the first
newspaper to publish them -- said people had to be ready to put
up with "scorn, mockery and ridicule" as part of free speech.

But Fode said it was not a correct description of existing
law when Jyllands-Posten claimed it was incompatible with
freedom of expression to demand special consideration for
religious feelings.

The ruling confirmed an earlier decision by a regional
Danish prosecutor and the decision cannot be appealed.