Danish Cartoons and Demands for Apologies

Officials from several Mideast states are demanding apologies from the government of Denmark for a decision by 17 Danish newspapers to re-publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad -- cartoons first published in 2005 that sparked widespread protest throughout the Muslim world.


The decision to re-publish the cartoons followed the arrest by Danish police in Copenhagen of several people suspected of plotting to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. It appears as though the freedoms of speech and expression are competing with the freedom of religion and related protections against persecution for those religious beliefs. Islamic groups are claiming that the cartoons will provoke violence against those who subscribe to Islam. On the other hand, those who defend the publication are quick to point out that much (if not all) of the civil-liberty damaging violence perpetrated so far has been directed against the people/media outlets who published the cartoons, not against individuals concerned about being persecuted for their religious beliefs. The question is which of these fundamental freedoms is really in jeopardy today and, by extension, which should take precedence in this case?