Denmark: Court throws out cartoons defamation suit

The drawings of Mohammed printed in Jyllands-Posten newspaper were not racist, a court in Århus has decided

Two editors of Jyllands-Posten newspaper have been acquitted of racism charges stemming from its publication of 12 drawings of the prophet Mohammed in September 2005.

Seven Muslim organisations had charged editor in chief Carsten Juste and culture editor Flemming Rose with racism in civil suit.

The court said the organisations had not proven that the drawings or the accompanying articles had intentionally offended Muslims.

The decision is the third time the Muslim organisations have had their efforts to have the newspaper charged with racism turned down by the courts. They will appeal today's decision.

The courts rejected other attempts to have the paper tried for criminal charges of blasphemy, racism and hate speech.

The decision came as no surprise to Juste.

'Anything other than an acquittal would have been a catastrophe for freedom of the press,' he said. 'You can say what you want about the drawings and the decision to publish them, but the paper's inalienable right to do so has been confirmed by the courts.'

Representatives from Muslim organisations were disappointed with the decision, but said they would respect it. Others said they feared it would re-open sores created by violent protests against Denmark earlier this year.

'The court has given Jyllands-Posten the right to offend Muslims and Muslims' feelings and to associate us with terrorism,' said Kasem Said Ahmad, the spokesman for the Islamic Faith Association, one of the groups bringing charges.

'I don't think anyone will understand the decision,' he added, referring to how it would be received by Muslims in Denmark and abroad.

Ahmad added that his group would use 'all the legal options available to it' to try to overturn the decision and win 'society's understanding' for its position.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

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