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Denmark newspaper not liable for Muhammad cartoons

[JURIST] The Vestre Landsret [court website, in Danish], one of the two second-highest appeals courts in Denmark, denied [text, PDF, in Danish] Wednesday an appeal of a 2006 lower court judgment [JURIST report] dismissing a lawsuit concerning caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive]. The defamation lawsuit was brought by seven Muslim groups against Jyllands-Posten [newspaper website], a Danish newspaper that printed satirical cartoons depicting [Le Monde slideshow] the Prophet Muhammad, and two of the newspaper's editors. The cartoons, including one which associated the Prophet with terrorism, caused international anger that resulted in wide-spread demonstrations, multiple deaths, the burning of Danish embassy buildings [JURIST reports], boycotts of Danish goods, and violent clashes throughout the Muslim world. The Vestre Landsret agreed with the judgment of the City Court of Aarhus that while some Muslims may be offended by the cartoons, they were an exercise in free speech, and there was no reason to believe the editors intended to insult Muslims. AP has more.

The seven Muslim groups filed the lawsuit in March 2006, following the announcement [text] by Denmark's Director of Public Prosecutions [official website] Henning Fode that the government would not press criminal charges [JURIST report] against the newspaper or its employees. A Jordanian court convicted editors [JURIST report] of two national newspapers in May 2006 and sentenced them to two months' imprisonment for publishing the cartoons. In January, a former newspaper editor in Belarus was sentenced to three years in prison [JURIST report] for reprinting the cartoons in the Zhoda newspaper. In February, Jyllands-Posten reprinted the cartoons, drawing condemnation and protests in Indonesia, Sudan, and Afghanistan [JURIST reports], among other places. Also in February, a tape recording allegedly made by Osama bin Laden was released, threatening retaliation against European Union countries [Reuters report] for reprinting the cartoons.

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