Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

The Cartoons That Shook the World

September 28, 2009

This book by Jytte Klausen is an investigation of the conflict over twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. Klausen interviewed politicians in the Middle East, Muslim leaders in Europe, the Danish editors and cartoonists, and the Danish imam who started the controversy. Following the trail of protests across the world, she deconstructs the arguments and motives that drove the escalation of the increasingly globalized conflict. She concludes that the Muslim reaction to the cartoons was not a spontaneous emotional reaction arising out of the clash of Western and Islamic civilizations. Rather, she contends that it was orchestrated, first by those with vested interests in elections in Denmark and Egypt, and later by Islamic extremists seeking to destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, and Nigeria. Klausen shows how the cartoon crisis was, therefore, ultimately a political conflict rather than a cultural misunderstanding.

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