The Newspaper That First Published Muhammad Cartoons Doesn’t Stand With Charlie Hebdo

Jyllands-Posten set off global riots when it showed the prophet with a bomb in his turban 10 years ago. Now the paper says it won’t republish the French magazine’s drawings.

Abid Katib/Getty

All but one of Denmark’s daily papers republished Charlie Hebdo cartoons in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s massacre. The one that didn’t has been there before though.

Conservative daily Jyllands-Posten sparked protests across the Muslim world in 2005 after it published 12 cartoons that included a depiction of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. The cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, was nearly murdered in his home in 2010. Flemming Rose, the editor who commissioned the drawings, has lived under police protection ever since.

But this time Jyllands-Posten decided not to re-publish Charlie Hebdo’s controversial drawings, even though the satirical French magazine had stood shoulder to shoulder with Jyllands-Posten and re-published the 12 Muhammad cartoons in 2006.

“I maintain the right as an editor to be able to print all types of drawings again at some point. Just not right now,” said Jyllands-Posten editor Jørn Mikkelsen, who admitted that his staff’s security drove the decision. “The truth is that for us it would be completely irresponsible to print old or new Prophet drawings right now.”

Jyllands-Posten’s omission was criticized by others in the Danish media. The DR2 television station asked foreign editor Flemming Rose on Sunday night if his paper had caved to jihadists.

The decision not to republish the cartoons last week was made out of fear, Rose admitted. He also implied that his paper had been slighted by their brethren in the media.

Jyllands-Posten has stood alone the past nine years. No one at any point has worn ‘je suis Jyllands-Posten’ t-shirts in the way they have with Charlie Hebdo.”

Rose added that reprinting Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons doesn’t necessarily reflect solidarity, because the cartoons had become part of the news story.

“To republish Charlie Hebdo cartoons doesn’t necessarily mean that you support them. You can certain write in an accompanying caption that you disagree with them. This has been missing from the debate.

Do militant Islamists control newsroom decisions, DR2 asked Rose?

“Yes, it’s true,” he replied. “They already do.”

Rose alluded to outspoken Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered on an Amsterdam street 10 years ago for openly criticizing Islam. Following the murder, Rose pointed out, more laws emerged against hate speech.

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“The Dutch Minister of Justice even said that 'had we had these hate speech laws in place, Van Gogh wouldn’t have been able to say what he did, and he’d still be alive today’.”

“It’s the same as saying to a rape victim that you’re to blame for what you wore at the discotheque Friday night,” added Rose.