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Ten years of the Muhammad cartoon crisis: 2005 – 2015

A timeline of the Muhammad crisis, that started in Denmark in 2005 and led to 12 people being killed in an apparent Islamist attack in Paris Wednesday

Two men attacked the French magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday killing 12 people. The attack is presumably linked to the magazine’s former publication of the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark in 2006. Here are the most important dates in the Muhammad cartoon crisis as reported in Danish-language newspaper Berlingske here and on

Jyllands Posten publishes 12 caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, including one with a bomb in his turban.

The Islamic Faith Society demands that Jyllands-Posten offers all Muslims an official apology and withdraw the offensive images.

11 ambassadors from Muslim countries request a personal meeting with prime minister at the time, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which is dismissed.

3,500 people join demonstration against the caricatures in Copenhagen.

A 17-year-old male is charged with issuing death threats against one of the illustrators. Anders Fogh Rasmussen distances himself from the threats.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs receive a protest letter from 11 Muslim countries with embassies in Denmark.

The Prime Minister sends a written reply to the 11 ambassadors: “Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of Danish democracy and wide-reaching. The Danish government has no possibility of influencing the press.”

Mr Fogh Rasmussen refuses to meet the ambassadors.

Jyllands Posten is reported to the police by 11 Muslim organisations in Denmark claiming blasphemy and racial discrimination.

November 2005:
A delegation of Danish Muslims embarks on an ‘information trip’ to the Middle East, spreading the word about the caricatures and calling for international condemnation.

A reward is offered for the murder of the illustrators.

In an op-ed piece in Politiken, 22 former Danish ambassadors denounce Mr Fogh Rasmussen for refusing to meet the 11 Muslim ambassadors.

The Public Prosecutor in Viborg decides not to prosecute Jyllands-Posten for blasphemy.

The Islamic Faith society appeals the Public Prosecutor’s ruling to the Attorney General.

The caricatures are re-published by Norwegian newspaper Magazinet, in a show of support for freedom of expression.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia are urged to boycott Danish goods.

Muslims throughout the world are urged by an international group of Muslim scholars to boycott Danish goods.

Libya closes down its embassy in Denmark in protest at the caricatures. Angry Muslims set fire to Danish flags in the Middle East. All Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes, are urged to leave Gaza within 72 hours.

Jyllands-Posten offers an apology through a Jordanian new agency for violating Muslims.

Newspapers throughout Europe publish the Mohammed caricatures, including the French satirical publication, Charlie Hedbo.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells an Arabic TV station that Danes have no wish to insult Muslims, after the caricatures were published in a Jordanian newspaper.

The Danish Embassy in Damascus is burnt down by angry demonstrators.

The Danish Embassy in Lebanon is burnt down.

The Danish embassy in Iran is attacked and torched.

The Danish embassy in Iran comes under attack for the second day in a row.

During Friday prayers in Iraq, Anders Fogh Rasmussen is dismissed as ‘an idiot’.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen holds talks with the Network of Danish Democratic Muslins, led by prominent immigrant MP Naser Khader.

15 people die in Nigeria during a demonstration against the drawings. A Danish delegation looking for conciliation in Egypt is well-received.

Denmark’s ambassador to Syria is recalled.

EU Foreign Ministers issue a joint declaration stressing the importance of freedom of expression, but ‘regretting’ that the caricatures have violated Muslim sensibilities.

The Attorney General declines to prosecute Jyllands-Posten.

All foreign ambassadors are invited to a meeting at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an attempt at ‘damage limitation’.

The 27 Muslim organisations that reported Jyllands-Posten for blasphemy and racial discrimination send the case to the UN’s human right commissioner, just as the EU’s Justice Commissioner praises the Attorney General for a ruling that’s a ‘perfect example of how a democracy works’.

United Nations Special Rapporteurs conclude in a report that the Danish government ‘failed to meet its international obligations, with regard to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.”

The Liberals and Danish People’s Party criticise Arla Foods for failing to support the fight for freedom of expression, after the dairy giant placed full-page ads in 25 Arabic newspapers expressing its ‘respect and understanding for Muslim society’.

A Bahrain conference on how Muslims can spread knowledge of Mohammed in the West calls for supermarkets to maintain the boycott of Danish goods and support local producers instead. In Denmark, Danish imam Ahmed Akkari threatens to ‘blow Naser Khader to pieces’ if he ever becomes a cabinet minister.

May 2006:
The boycott of Dansih goods slowly subsides.

Politiken publishes the 12 Mohammed caricatures.

Amnesty International approves how the Danish government handled the Mohammed crisis and defended freedom of expression.

Three men are arrested in Aarhus on suspicion of planning to murder Mohammed illustrator Kurt Westergaard. Two of the men are deported from Denmark while the third, a Danish citizen is later released when the Public Prosecutor drops all charges.

12 Danish newspapers re-print Mr Wesetrgaard’s cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

Protests flare up again in Gaza and Pakistan, where the Danish flag and Anders Fogg Rasmussen effigies are burnt.

The chair of parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee receives a letter from the Iranian ambassador in Denmark stating that Iran needs an official apology for the Mohammed caricatures before the Committee can go ahead with its planned trip to Teheran the following week,.

After the latest re-print of the caricatures, Danish Intelligence (PET) raises the threat level against Denmark and Danish interests abroad.

Osama bin Laden threatens there’s a ‘score to settle’ after the Mohammed cartoons.

75 per cent of Jordanian shops refuse to sell Danish products.

Dutch Islam critic illegally uses Kurt Westergaard’s drawing of Muhammad in his controversial anti-Islam film ‘Fitna’. After Mr Westergaard threatens to sue. Gert Wilders removes the disputed images.

Jyllands Posten donates 11 of the 12 Muhammad caricatures to the Danish Royal Library, but not the most controversial one showing Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

A car bomb explodes outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, killing six people. Al-Qeada claims responsibility, citing the Muhammad cartoons.

Eight Danish newspapers receive a letter from a lawyer in Saudi Arabia demanding an apology and retraction from them for re-printing the now world famous drawing of Muhammad. The lawyer, who claims to represent ‘thousands of descendants of Muhammad’, calls on the papers to publish a ‘clear, public unconditional apology and correction’ if they wasn’t to avoid a lawsuit’.

October 2009:
American police detain two men who they believe were planning terrorist attacks in Denmark – and also against Kurt Westergaard.

Shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, a deranged, Somali axeman attempts to murder Kurt Westergaard in his own home. Police shoot the attempted murderer in the leg. The man is found to have close links t the Somali terrorist organisation al-Shabaab, as well as al-Qeada leaders in East Africa.

Kurt Westergaard’s controversial Muhammad caricatures are reprinted in newspapers in Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, and Surinam.

In a survey of Danish artists, 12 per cent reveal that they have dropped certain projects that could violate people’s religious, political, sexual, or ethnic feelings.

It’s reported that David Headley, a Pakistani/American man charged with plotting terrorism in Denmark and India, has for years been a secret agent for the USA.

Politiken prints a front-page apology for re-printing the Muhammad cartoons as part of an out of court settlement with the Saudi lawyer claiming to represent ‘thousands of descendants of Muhammad’.

A planned attack on Jyllands-Posten by the ‘one – legged boxer’ Lors Doukaiev, goes wrong when a bomb explodes in his hands in a Copenhagen hotel.

Danish Intelligence (PET) in collaboration with its Swedish counterpart Säpo, arrests four men believed to have planned a New Year terrorist attack on Jyllland Posten. 21 months late the four men are sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Senior paralegal Jacob Mchangama of the CEPOS think-tank releases the film “Collision! Free Speech and Religion’, an 18-minute film about freedom of speech.’

Ahmed Akkari, one of the toughest critics of the Mohammed caricatures, distances himself his previous views and offers a full apology for his role in whipping up anti-Denmark views.

Masked gunmen shouting ‘we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad’ kill 12 people in an attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hedboe in Paris.

A longer more detailed list is available on this Danish article here.

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