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Varieties of Muslim ExperienceEncounters with Arab Political and Cultural Life$
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Lawrence Rosen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226726168

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226726182.001.0001

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Protecting the Prophet: Understanding Muslim Reactions to the Danish Cartoon Controversy

Protecting the Prophet: Understanding Muslim Reactions to the Danish Cartoon Controversy

Chapter:
(p.105) Eight Protecting the Prophet: Understanding Muslim Reactions to the Danish Cartoon Controversy
Source:
Varieties of Muslim Experience
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226726182.003.0009

In 2005, a Danish newspaper published twelve cartoons, most of them explicitly portraying the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims, of course, were greatly offended by these cartoons. It took several months following their initial publication in Denmark before the cartoons sparked very strong, often violent reactions by Muslims around the world. Much has been written, in the light of this controversy, about the conflict between freedom of the press and deference to religious sensibilities, Muslim grievances, and Western inconsistencies. This chapter suggests that, given the place of prophets in the early development of Islam, Muhammad was transformed from the role of a prophet simpliciter to that of a master, a role that to this day resonates very deeply in Islamic, especially Arab, cultures. Many Muslims depend on the evaluations of others for their own sense of identity and worth. Finally, the attribution of motives and intentions to those who purvey such graven images or slander reflects the ways in which such attributions are made in Arabic-speaking cultures generally.

Keywords:   prophets, Islam, Prophet Muhammad, Muslims, slander, cartoons, Denmark, freedom of the press

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