Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns a plot to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew the most controversial of the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that were published in the daily Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. Members of the Danish police intelligence service arrested three suspected participants in the plot on the night of 11 February.
“It is unacceptable that a cartoonist should threatened in this manner in Denmark, one of the countries that most respects free expression,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. “He has been forced to hide and accept police protection simply because he drew cartoons that displeased some people. Westergaard lives in a country where religion is private matter. Under this tradition, religious freedom is on a par with freedom of expression, which includes the right to make fun of beliefs one does not share.”
The murder plot has been widely condemned in Danish political circles and by the country's news media. Several newspapers in Denmark and other European countries yesterday reprinted the controversial cartoons in a gesture of solidarity and to reaffirm their commitment to free expression and opposition to all forms of fanaticism.
Reporters Without Borders stresses that the press is independent of the government in Denmark, as it is in all European countries. The views and editorial decisions of the news media are their own and no one else's. They do not speak for their government or fellow citizens.
The press freedom organisation urges the Danish authorities to purse the investigation in order to identify all those behind the murder plot. It also voices its support for the calls for dialogue issued by the media and Muslim community in Denmark.