The outrage over the publication of cartoons originally posted in the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper has escalated into violence and destruction. Embassies in Beirut and Damascus have been torched by protestors.
“Despite the attempts of clerics to stay the mainly young male crowd, hundreds of men, some carrying green flags with the words “God is Great” written in Arabic, pushed them away and threw cans of tear gas back at police.
The Maronite Catholic church near the Danish consulate was also attacked, prompting fears that the protests could turn into a sectarian clash. By 4pm order had been restored and the 2,000 demonstrators had dispersed.” Telegraph
The cartoons were first published in September, depicting several images of the prophet Muhammad in offensive settings. According to Islamic teachings it is forbidden to depict the prophet Muhammad.
The Danish newspaper were writing an article about free speech, and the problems that an author had trying to find a cartoonist that would illustrate a children’s book he was working on (it would of involved depicting Muhammad).
The cartoonists have now gone into hiding because of death threats and the Jyllands-Posten newspaper has had to increase security.
There’s a more detailed description of the whole saga over at wikipedia.
See previous posts on artnewsblog where a relative of Van Gogh was killed over an 11 minute film, an Austrian cartoonist was wanted for Blasphemy in Greece for depicting Jesus, and a Sikh play in the United Kingdom caused protests and death threats.
I guess the message is that artists should stick to paintings flowers and landscapes… and God forbid, don’t upset any religion.
I can’t see that happening anytime soon though. It’s part of the arsenal that any decent artist should have; the ability to shock and question authority.