Marion Muller and Esra Ozcan states in their 'The Political Iconography of Muhammad Cartoons: Understanding Cultural Conflict and Political Action'. PS: Political Science & Politics, vol. 40, no.2 (2007) 287-291.
The controversy over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons that swept the globe at the beginning of 2006 was arguably the second major event after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that brought 'Muslims' as a group of political actors to the forefront of internatinal politics. The crisis was sparked in late September 2005, by the publication of political cartoons, depicting Islamic prophet Muhammad, in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
While the oriniginal cause of controversy was limited to a small country in northern Europe, political actinos spread worldwide, ranging from peaceful protests to diplomatic sanctions to consumer boycotts, and finally to open violence against anything symbolizing 'the West.' the levels of political actions were muddled, and responsibilites as well as the potential to act were confused. Almost all of the actors involved in the controversy were left without an approprate countrpart to address.
Indeed the most populous and public places, like the Norreport Station, Central Station and big Malls could be the target hit. 78 per cent of the electorate believe it's either 'probable' or 'highly probable' that Denmark will soon suffer a terrorist strike carried out by Islamic fundamentalist groupls, a new Gallup poll shows.
People defended the publication of the photos as a freedom of speech and freedom of press, but some say the photos went off the limit; and now the cartoonist has brought a danger not only to him and his family, but to his country. It is an ongoing discussion in Copenhagen, right now, and a lot of Danish embassies have been attempted or have been attacked due to these publication.
I thought you should know how ones thoughts can provoke such a big misunderstanding and fight. Read further to read more:
The cartoon crisis started with these 12 editorial photos, which were stated as an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship.(click to see in bigger version below):
However, Danish Muslim organizations responded by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-Posten's publication. Further examples of the cartoons were soon reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries, further deepening the controversy.
This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with instances of police firing on crowds of protestors (resulting in a total of more than 100 reported deaths), including setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, storming European buildings, and burning the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French and German flags in Gaza City.Various groups, primarily in the Western world, responded by endorsing the Danish policies, including "Buy Danish" campaigns and other displays of support. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark's worst international crisis since World War II.
Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic or racist,and argued that they are blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, are intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or are a manifestation of ignorance about the history of Western imperialism.
Supporters have said that the cartoons illustrated an important issue in a period of Islamic terrorism and that their publication is a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech, explicitly tied to the issue of self-censorship. They claim that Muslims were not targeted in a discriminatory way since unflattering cartoons about other religions (or their leaders) are frequently printed. They question whether some of the riots were spontaneous outpourings as they took place where no spontaneous demonstrations are allowed, and whether the images of Muhammad per se are offensive to Muslims, as thousands of illustrations of Muhammad have appeared in books by and for Muslims.