Religious icons in the media: Where to draw the line?

The recent re-publication of the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad first published in Danish newspapers in early 2006 has again struck a raw nerve, reigniting the debate over where to draw the line on press freedoms when news is deemed “defamatory.”    

Do you agree with the newspapers’ decision to republish the cartoons in the name of press freedom? Or do you believe that press freedom should be halted when it comes to the issue of sacred beliefs?

IJNet would like to hear your opinion. We invite you to answer these questions or add some of your own. Join the discussion by clicking on "Add a Comment" below. Please identify your country if possible. Thanks for your participation.

Freedom of the

Freedom of the press is an important value in the civilized world, nevertheless religious beliefs of fellow human beings need to be respected. The publication of the cartoons in Denmark and other countries represented a mistakeand; republication was an unforgivable mistake.

The Prophet has

The Prophet has been represented in art (including paintings by Muslims commissioned by Muslim patrons) for well over a thousand years, often without comment. The Mi'raj-Nameh manuscript, painted in Herat in 1436, features the seven great Prophets with Muhammad at their centre, and also an illustration of Muhammad and Moses meeting, and an earlier copy of the same manuscript, painted in the 2nd quarter of the 14th century in Tabriz, shows the archangel Gabriel carrying Muhammad to heaven. The Khamseh manuscript copied for Shah Tahmasp in 1539-43 has as its frontspiece the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad. What should therefore be at the centre of this discussion is not that the Prophet was represented (for the acceptability of this is very much open to debate, as per the examples above) but rather the offensive manner in which it was done.

I think that re

I think that republishing the abusive cartoons can not be considered as part of freedom of expression ...there is a limit for the freedom of expression...for example some must not abuse prophets and god and other people's values ......and I thing if this continues there must be collision of the great civilazations.......but any who is claiming that he belongs to any civilazation shouldv n't abuse a prophet ...becouse any muslim is supposed to abuse any prophet becouse the Islam has already forbiden it absolutely

I suppose that

I suppose that should be a limit of what to post/publish in the media, even we a free to say what we fell, think. We don’t need to forget that one of the media roles is to educate, but not incite to hatred.

I do not have m

I do not have much to say but the "freedom" does have its boundaries. It is wrong to re-publish, as a matter of fact, it is wrong to publish those cartoons in the first place! A good journalist does draw the boundary line in his world of freedom. Thank You

As a journalist

As a journalist I am definitely for the freedom of expression but at the same time we all, the journalists, are expected adhere to certain code of ethics. Publishing a cartoon of the Prohet Muhammed in a way that could hurt the feelings one billion plus Muslims of the world is quite abominable which should have been avoided. Republishing of the cartoon is definitely an action to discredit the image of a holy man whom the world Muslims regard with high esteem. In order to critisize the terrorist act by ceratin Christian fundementalists we shall not tolerate depicting the image of Jesus Christ in such a manner that will hurt feelings of world Christians.

CNN, 08 March,2

CNN, 08 March,2008 "Thousands of Afghans pack a sports stadium in the western Afghanistan city Herat to protest the reprinting of the same Danish cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked rage in the Muslim world two years ago." ... "Some Muslims believe it is forbidden by the Quran to show an image of the prophet." (?!?).. "Westergaard's cartoon depicted the prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse." (!!!)..

I'm totally shocked - not because of act of Afghan protestors, but with these two facts - what Muslim journalist from Kabul wrote (SOME Muslims believe !!! ...Kur'an said so,dear collegue, and I knew this,too although I'm Orthodox from Serbia), and the other fact is Westergaard's cartoon...

As I said in my post on the opening of discussion about religious icon - Danish cartoon doesn't represent news freedom, but ignorance and (why not) cynism. With this cartoon Westergaard shows disrespect of all islam people (let say, about half of the World population)! What is our future if we continue with this false news freedom - wars, killings ??? No, in my opinion ETHICAL line (in this and similar cases) ought to be drawn!

People in the e

People in the east and Muslim world must understand that Europe and the west has its own set of journalistic ethics.

Demanding the Danish government to force the newspapers involved in publishing the cartoons may be bit unfair as Denmark has it own set of rules. The government has apolgised for the cartoons but can't force the newspapers to do so because of their so-called "freedom of expression".

However, re-printing of the sacrilegious cartoons hurting Muslim sentiments is surely something which should be denounced as the act doesn't justify the "freedom of press" slogan of the West.

The reason is that Muslims have already vented their anger when the cartoons were published for the first time in Denmark. It means Danish media now has a fair idea that publishing of such cartoons hurts religious sentiments of Muslims. Re-printing of those cartoons for the third time should have been avoided as there is no justification of re-printing the blasphemous caricatures.

I believe Danish media has now been deliberately trying to create an uproar all over the world this time. Religous extremism and terrorism is surely a fact and condemenable. But is it necessary to involve the holiest personaltiy of Islam to express hatred for terrorism?

It is time that Europe should realise that if there should be freedom of press and expression then European press should also follow journalistic ehtics. Mostly western media never discloses the name of child who is a victim of molestation or a woman who is raped. Why? Of course because of ethics as disclosing the victim's name might put a social stigma and create problems for the child or woman.

On the other hand, if Muslims could show anger over the disgusting act by the Danish media, then they should also lashed out at Muslim countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Malaysia, Indonesia and Syria for reprinting the caricatures. There should be no double standards while expressing religious sentiments.

Why Muslims are silent on the demolition of the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) home by the Saudi Arabian government in Makkah? It was done a few years ago to built a multi-storey building in place of the bithplace of the Prophet.

Besides, so-called media watchdogs like Reporters Without Borders should also condemn the publication of the cartoon just the way they demanded for the release of journalists who were arrested in the above mentioned Muslim countries for re-printing the cartoons.

It is time that west and Muslim world should realise the facts and work for harmony rather than ignite hate.

I hope the Dani

I hope the Danish cartoon must be stopped. Coz provocation in journalism is considered unethical and unprofessional. Journalism must be used to channel good outputs rather than to struck with fire inputs for the readers. Such provocation will spark to the destruction of the world. Journalism have been blamed for the angers of the Muslims. So, journalism must be justified and be considerate for other mankind - Datuk Mat



I think the mos

I think the moslem world has blackmailed and intimidated the free world enough that the United Nations should start thinking of outlawing their bully reactions to normal press behaviour as religious and press terrorism. Just as new born babies must grow, so also must the world evolve and if the moslems want to return to the Dark Ages, it is their right but in doing so, they must not blackmail the free world into going along with them.

I am Ademola Ak

I am Ademola Akinlabi, Nigeria, there is much in freedom not only in press freedom, we all know the implication and reaction to the the first publication while the pains still linger in memory of those who lost their belove ones.

I dont subscrib

I dont subscribe to any religion . i am an agnostic. But I have some reservations about publishing blasphemous cartoons and materials which may hurt the religious feelings. Besides the cartoon concerned is that of Prophet Mohammad.Surely we should respect prophets of every religion. they should be reverred and no derogatory remarks can be tolerated.Negating religious sentiments it seems, has become very fashionable, particularly Islam. i dont subscribe to any kind of fundamentalism, as it only lleads to spreading hate and hatred.I believe in spreading peace.

I am a Journali

I am a Journalist working for a government media. I see nothing wrong with criticising any sacred religion or belief by the media. Afterall, that is their role, to draw public opinion in order to check or criticize wrongdoings, all in a bid to ensure a better society. I dont think it is right for any sacred religion or belief to condone bomb-killngs of innocent people including children and as a christian if my religion does that, why not ?, the media should criticize it.

palang kasmi Nigeria

Yes. I can agre

Yes. I can agree to republish under the title"Press Freedom" because readers could get some benefit and pleasure and feeling and knowledge from replublishment. But we have to aware that it might not be broken some rights.

The military re

The military regime here has only just kicked out a publisher whose very widely read newpaper had run stories of the interim finance minister's numerous overseas accounts. After the 2000 coup, he had traveled widely (including India) collecting money for "victims" of the coup but no one ever knew where the money was - until now! Freedom of the press must never be compromised as it ensures we carry out our "watchdog) role effectively.If I undertand correctly, the Danish newspaper was simply trying to convey this message. I would have reprinted it - the emotional reaction to it is human nature..

I am also a wor

I am also a working journalist and attached with a largest English daily of Pakistan. Publication of blasphemous cartoons is surely condemnable. Freedom of press does not mean to hurt the religious sentiments of followers of any religion. Re-publication of the blasphemous cartoons reflects the bias approach of European media towards Islam. We know jews have stronghold on European and US print and electronic media and it used to paint wrong picture of Islam and Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) before their public. We also know that majority of European and US people are innocent and have no knowledge about Islam and its Preacher (the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad SAW) and they believe in wrong information of their media both print and electronic. I think republication of blasphemous cartoons a conspiracy against world's peace. Surely it will put the entire world in danger. It is the responsibility of the government of the concerned countries to put ban on publication of blasphemous matter and should punish the responsible persons if they want peace in their homeland. Similarly international journalistic organisations should also take serious notice of such immoral activities. I would like to suggest the governments of the countries concerned and international journalistic organisations to chalk out code of ethics for media to aviod clash between followers of Islam and Christianity.

Thanks Ziaullah Niazi Staff Reporter The News, Lahore, Pakistan

If defaming the

If defaming the religious figures of others is part of freedom of expression, then why is the debate on holocaust banned in Europe. why are several historians languishing in European jails because they dared to talk about the subject. I just want to say that there surely has to be a clear distinction between expressing yourself and hurting others, because the "freedom of another stops where my nose starts." As for one writer saying that it is ok to draw the image of the prophet, well, to him I say that the very reason among others that Islam came was to finish paganism. And paying reverence to images is similar to that because which Muslim doesn't hold the Prophet (SAW) close to his hear.

Drawing the Pro

Drawing the Prophet (S.W.A) is not a problem to me, let us be realistic, when you talk about him or whenever his name mentioned what the image do you get? Either its allowed or not one can make his or her own representation, the prophet is owned by all its an individual understanding.

what matters is the message about the prophet. If you look at Quran itself, to me its an art of writings, its all about calligraphy, are the words of Allah, but human beings use them their different needs.

Human being is living with fear, thats why we normally judge others. God was opposed during the Genesis thats why we do have Lucifer, so as today, its upon an individual to believe, we don't have the right to choose for others. Don't think that the almighty God belongs to us, We belong to the God.

Hurting the sen

Hurting the sentiments of the followers of a particular religion is not freedom of expression or press. It seems an intentional effort to provocate Muslims to find more targets like Palestine (Gaza), Afghanistan and Iraq. Such acts are not only affecting the world now but will also have serious repercussions for the coming generations of humans.

I am Muthee Mwa

I am Muthee Mwangi from Kenya and i just cannot understand why it is so difficul for Danish papers to keep off Islam. Ithink it is very important to understand that Muslims unlike us Christians attach their faith so much to their daily lives and it is only fair if we show some kind of tolerance as it is their right. Even in Islamic circles, the Prophet is never depicted in any form and the actions of the papers are most insensitive and in bad taste. The fact that you can blaspheme Jesus and no one raises a finger just tells that most people who call themselves Christians are just hypocrites and dont care what you say about him

I am Orthodox f

I am Orthodox from Serbia, but I don't agree with re-publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. In my opinion as journalist and ethnologist, we ought to respect this religion as others - in this case especially because Islam doesn't alow any kind of presentation (painting,figure or icon) of Prophet Muhammad. It's the same with the other religions - they have their sacred rules, so we (media) need to put the limits as they exist in other fields of human work and behaviour (moral,law, etc). In contrary,. it's anarchy.

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