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Denmark court extends sentence of Muhammad cartoonist attacker

A Danish court on Wednesday sentenced Somali Islamist Muhideen Mohammed Geele to an additional year in prison [Stiftstidende Reuters, in Danish] for his 2010 attack on Kurt Westergaard, illustrator of the controversial 2005 cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] as a suicide bomber. Geele had already been sentenced to nine years in prison [JURIST report] for the attack. In Denmark, crimes involving an additional infliction of terror typically attach a 12-year sentence, but the court lowered Geele's sentence to 10 years because he had attacked one individual rather than a group of civilians. Geele was convicted [Copenhagen Post report] on charges of attempted murder and terrorism for breaking into [JURIST report] Westergaard's home and threatening him with an axe and knife.

Westergaard's 2005 picture of the Muhammad was one of a series of caricatures published by a Danish newspaper that infuriated Muslims around the world. Many Muslims consider depictions of Muhammad offensive, and when other newspapers reprinted the caricatures in 2006 it triggered violence in several countries, leading to multiple deaths, the burning of Danish embassy buildings [JURIST reports] and boycotts of Danish goods. In April, a Dutch court acquitted [JURIST report] the Arab European League (AEL) on charges of making discriminatory and defamatory statements against Jews when they posted a cartoon on their website that insinuated that the Holocaust was fabricated. The AEL argued that they posted the cartoon in response to what they saw as a double standard in the distribution of Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad even though they did not actually deny the historical facts of the Holocaust.

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