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A Widening Cronfrontation: Timeline of Cartoon Crisis

DW staff / AFP (ktz)
February 18, 2006

The row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed continues to simmer as more Muslim countries join the fray. In Libya 11 people are killed in the most recent protests. DW-WORLD chronicles the issue.

Iranian protesters burn Danish flags and chant anti-western slogansImage: AP

The worldwide dispute over the drawings of the Prophet Mohammed began last year when the conservative Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten decided to challenge what it saw as a de facto censorship over such images in Islamic teachings. However, the row didn't really ignite until early February, when several European newspapers decided to reprint the images as a testimony to the freedom of speech.

In the last several weeks, the cartoons have sparked riots and violent protests throughout the Islamic world. Angry crowds take to the streets, burn flags and storm embassies from Denmark and several other EU member states. Several people are killed in the violence and many more injured.

The controversy is being regarded as a clash of cultures, pitting western values such as freedom of expression and the separation of church and state against the religious beliefs of Islam.

Here is a review of the chain of events.

Sept. 30: Jyllands Posten publishes 12 drawings of the prophet. Several of them associate Islam with terrorism and suicide bombings. One shows Mohammed wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb with a burning fuse.

  • October: First street protests over the images in Denmark. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen refuses to meet a group of ambassadors from 11 Islamic countries who wish to complain about the images.
  • November: The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reprints the cartoons
  • Dec. 29: Arab League foreign ministers condemn the publication
  • Jan. 10: Magazinet, a small Christian paper in Norway, publishes the images and cites press freedom
  • Jan. 26: Saudi Arabia withdraws its ambassador from Denmark
  • Jan. 30: Jyllands Posten apologizes to Muslims for any offence, but defends its right to publish the cartoons

Feb. 1-3: Newspapers in several other European countries publish some or all of the cartoons, citing freedom of expression and a free press. The French newspaper France Soir also runs its own drawing on its front page claiming it has a right to make fun of religion. The editor is fired by the paper's Egypt-born publisher.

Feb. 4: Furious crowds in the Syrian capital of Damascus attack the Danish and Norwegian embassies, setting them afire. Danish products are boycotted in the Muslim world.

Feb. 5: One person is killed and 50 injured as a crowd burns down the Danish consulate in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The Iraqi transport ministry freezes contracts with Denmark and Norway while an insurgent group urges Muslims to attack Danes and Danish interests

Feb. 6: At least three people are killed during protests in Afghanistan; demonstrations in Somalia leave at least one dead.

  • In the course of several hours, further protests take place in Algeria, Egypt, Indian-held Kashmir, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories and Thailand. Iran says it will no longer trade with Denmark. Protesters attack the Danish and Austrian embassies in Tehran.
  • Iran's largest selling newspaper, Hamshahri, says it will hold a contest for cartoons on the Holocaust. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeats his stance that the murder of 6 million Jews under Hitler is a lie.
  • Denmark advises its nationals to avoid traveling in Arab and Muslim countries. Danish tour operators cancel all trips to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

Feb. 7: More protests in Islamic countries and others with large Muslim populations. At least four more people die in anti-cartoon riots in Afghanistan.

  • US President George W. Bush assures Rasmussen of his "support and solidarity."
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin urges editors to "think 100 times" before publishing such pictures, but German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the controversy may be exploited to incite unrest in Muslim countries.
  • The United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference express alarm and urge dialogue and restraint.

Feb. 8: Danish members of a peace-monitoring team pull out of the West Bank city of Hebron.

  • The satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo prints all 12 original cartoons. French President Jacques Chirac accuses the newspaper of "provocation."
  • Two Yemeni weeklies are suspended for printing the cartoons.
  • Bush urges governments to quell the protests, but also warns the media over its "responsibility." The majority of US newspapers and broadcasters refuse to show the cartoons. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accuses Syria and Iran of inciting violence.

Feb. 9: The Malaysian government shuts a local newspaper for publishing the cartoons. Police charge the editor of a weekly tabloid with blasphemy for reprinting them.

  • The Islamic Palestinian group Hamas offers to seek to calm anger among Muslims but tells the West to "change its attitudes."
  • The culture editor of Jyllands Posten is sent on holiday for an indefinite period by his boss.

Feb. 10: Police in Egypt fire tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, injuring 30. In Nairobi, police fire tear gas at flag-burning protesters. More riots take place after Friday prayers in Malaysia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

  • Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi blames western nations for a "huge chasm" between the West and Islam.
  • A leading Iranian cleric praises Muslim "holy rage" while the radical group Islamic Jihad threatens to "burn the ground" beneath anyone who make a future "attack" on the prophet.
  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he regrets the offence caused, but insists nothing justifies the violent backlash.

Feb. 11: Denmark's ambassadors to Syria, Iran and Indonesia leave because of threats against them. Tens of thousands of Muslims demonstrate in Europe

  • Feb. 14: Two demonstrators are killed in Pakistan as they torch a bank.
  • Feb. 15: Three more are killed in Pakistan during a demonstration.

Feb. 17: Denmark temporarily closes its embassy in Islamabad; Pakistan's ambassador to Denmark is recalled for consultations.

At least 10 people are killed by Libyan police during a demonstration against the Italian consulate in Benghazi which was set afire. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi demands the resignation of Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli who made anti-Muslim statements while wearing a T-shirt displaying the cartoons.

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