Friday, August 31, 2007

Swedish Paper Creates New Muhammad Caricature Controversy

SFGate reports today on a new Muhammad caricature controversy, this time in Sweden. The newspaper Nerikes Allehanda recently published a picture, drawn by artist Lars Vilks, of what was apparently the head of the Prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog, standing in the middle of a traffic circle. Both Pakistan and Iran have summoned Swedish diplomats to complain about the drawing. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: "Regrettably, the tendency among some Europeans to mix the freedom of expression with an outright and deliberate insult to 1.3 billion Muslims in the world is on the rise.... Such acts deeply undermine the efforts of those who seek to promote respect and understanding among religions and civilizations." Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed "Zionists" for the drawing.

Australia's Herald Sun reported earlier this week that the drawing was part of a series that Swedish art galleries had declined to display. Nerikes Allehanda defended its publication of the drawing, criticizing the galleries for unacceptable self-censorship.

UPDATE: On Friday, some 300 Muslims in Sweden rallied outside the offices of Nerikes Allehanda to protest the cartoon publication. (AP).