Danish newspaper receives bomb threat for cartoons of Muhammad

Editor’s note: The original text of this alert has been changed to locate the headquarters of the daily Jyllands-Posten in Viby instead of Copenhagen

New York, February 1, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by a bomb threat against the Viby-based Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in retaliation for publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. International media reported that a caller speaking English told the switchboard of the newspaper’s branch office in Copenhagen on Tuesday that a bomb would explode in 10 minutes.

Police with dogs searched the Copenhagen offices for several hours but found no bomb. Foreign correspondents and journalists working for the Danish news agency Ritzau in the same office block were also evacuated.

Police also cleared and searched the Jyllands-Posten headquarters in the coastal city of Viby.

Jyllands-Posten said it was flooded with over 80,000 e-mails as hackers tried to shut down its Web site (http://www.jp.dk/).

The paper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad on September 30, 2005 sparking furor in the Muslim world where depictions of the Prophet are forbidden. One drawing showed Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.

“We deplore the bomb threat against this newspaper and its journalists,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Jyllands-Posten has the right to publish these cartoons and people who are offended by them have the right to express their anger. But no one has a right to threaten violence.”

The cartoons gained increased attention after they were reprinted in the January 10 edition of Magazinet, a small Christian evangelical weekly based in Norway, according to local and international press reports. Magazinet editor-in-chief Vebjoern Selbekk said Tuesday that the newspaper had received some 20 death threats in retaliation for republishing the cartoons.

Danish embassies have faced protests and flag burnings throughout the Middle East. Libya closed its Copenhagen embassy and Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark. Iran and Iraq both formally protested to Denmark over the cartoons.

Some French and German newspapers, rallying to defend freedom of expression in secular societies, republished the caricatures on Wednesday sparking fresh anger from Muslims.
The French daily France Soir ran a front-page headline “Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God” and a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud. Inside, the paper reprinted the Danish drawings.

In Germany, the dailies Die Welt and Berliner Zeitung ran some of the cartoons.
Jyllands-Posten originally published the cartoons after asking artists to depict Muhammad to challenge what it said was self-censorship among artists dealing with Islamic issues.