Danish government prepared for new Mohammed cartoon protests

Danish government prepared for new Mohammed cartoon protests

Denmark is prepared for fresh protests in the wake of the publication of a new book containing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the government said Wednesday, dpa reported.

The 12 cartoons were initially published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005, sparking violent protests a few months later in several Muslim countries.

The cartoons are included in a book that goes on sale Thursday written by Jyllands-Posten culture editor Flemming Rose, who had commissioned the cartoons for an article on self-censorship.

On the eve of the book sale, Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said there were "many signs" that protests could erupt, adding that the government was trying to avert a "repetition" of the cartoon crisis.

As part of efforts to prevent an outbreak of violence, Espersen met Wednesday with 17 envoys from Muslim countries.

She later briefed the Danish foreign affairs committee. Her meeting with the Muslim diplomats was welcomed by the foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Social Democrats.

Meanwhile, Rose defended the inclusion of the cartoons in his book, The Tyranny of Silence.

Including a facsimile of the 12 cartoons was a necessary part of his analysis of the drawings, he said at a news conference on the eve of the book's publication.

"It is the same logic as when you publish an analysis of (a painting by) Manet or Picasso: You show the painting so that you can compare text and picture," Rose was quoted as saying by the online edition of Jyllands-Posten.

Rose said that the renewed publication of the cartoons was "not intended to offend or hurt anyone" and noted that they are "part of history."

But the drawings remain controversial and the Jyllands-Posten has reportedly been the target of several terrorist plots.

Rose and former Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew a cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban, have also been threatened.

A Somali-born axe-wielding man in January forced his way into Westergaard's home near Arhus, but the cartoonist was able to alert police from a panic room.

A survey commissioned by Danish news agency Ritzau found that 48 per cent of Danes support the publication of the cartoons, while 38 per cent said it was a mistake. dpa lsm amh Author: Lennart Simonsson

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