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Muhammad caricatures spark freedom of expression debate in Europe

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad were reprinted in newspapers on Wednesday in Italy, Germany, France and Spain, sparking a new debate over freedom of expression in Europe and drawing protests from Muslims in Europe and the Middle East. France Soir [media website in French] ran the front page headline "Yes, we have the right to caricature God" complete with a color reprint of a cartoon depicting Muhammad, but the managing editor was fired [Islam Online report; Le Monde report in French with photo] later Wednesday. The headline drew a rare rebuke from the French government, which emphasized the importance of freedom of expression but criticized that which hurts individuals' religious beliefs. Depictions of the Muhammad are considered sacrilege in Islam. The cartoons were initially printed [Guardian report] in September 2005 in Jyllands-Posten [media website in Danish], a Danish newspaper. Various protests have ensued from the boycotting of Danish goods to Saudi Arabia withdrawing its ambassador to Copenhagen and Libya closing its embassy [JURIST report]. The Guardian has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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