Danish papers reprint Muhammad cartoon

/ Source: The Associated Press

Denmark's leading newspapers reprinted a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, a day after three men were arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill the cartoonist whose work had spurred deadly protests in the Muslim world.

The papers said they wanted to show their firm commitment to freedom of speech after Tuesday's arrests in western Denmark.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which first published 12 depictions of Muhammad on Sept. 30, 2005, reprinted Kurt Westergaard's cartoon in its Wednesday edition. Several other major dailies also reprinted the drawing, which shows Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

"We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper will always defend," said the Copenhagen-based Berlingske Tidende.

Deadly protests around the world
The cartoon by Westergaard and 11 others sparked deadly protests across the Muslim world when they were published two years ago in a range of Western newspapers.

Danes watched in disbelief as angry mobs burned the Danish flag and attacked the country's embassies in Muslim countries including Syria, Iran and Lebanon after the cartons were published in early 2006. Danish products were boycotted in several Muslim countries.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Three arrested
The police intelligence agency, PET, said two Tunisians and a Danish citizen of Moroccan origin were arrested Tuesday in pre-dawn raids in Aarhus, western Denmark.

PET chief Jakob Scharf said the purpose of the operation was "to prevent a terror-related assassination of one of the cartoonists behind the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad."

Jyllands-Posten said the plot focused on Westergaard, 73, who works for the paper.

Scharf said the Danish suspect would likely be released after questioning, but could still face charges of violating a Danish terror law. The two Tunisians would be expelled from Denmark because they were considered threats to national security, he said.