Danish court dismisses prophet cartoon lawsuit
Denmark's prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as the worst international crisis since the second world war
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Thursday, 26, Oct 2006 03:29
Seven Muslim organisations who sued a Danish newspaper for publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad last year have today lost their case.
The city court in Aarhus ruled that the 12 drawings printed in Jyllands-Posten on September 30th last year constituted a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech.
Summing up, the judge said: "It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims' honour.
"But there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims."
Carsten Juste, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, welcomed the decision, saying in a statement it reaffirmed the newspaper's "incontestable right" to print the drawings.
"Everything but a pure acquittal would have been a disaster for the press freedom and the media's possibility to fulfil its duties in a democratic society," he added.
An appeal is expected from the Muslim groups who have claimed the cartoons are Islamophobic and blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith.
After the cartoons were first printed, more than 50 countries around the world reprinted them, which resulted in widespread, and in some places violent, protests and rioting.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark's prime minister, described the controversy as the worst international crisis since the second world war.
He also supported the paper's stance, insisting: "Freedom of speech is the most valuable right of liberty - we must defend it to the very last."