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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 13:37 GMT
Cartoon row: Readers speak out
The escalating row over the publication of newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad has provoked a massive response of views from readers of the BBC News website.

Here two readers from Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, and two from the Arab world debate the controversy.

AFREEN PARVEZ, AL-KHOBAR, SAUDI ARABIA

Afreen Parvez
It was outrageous and completely unethical to publish these cartoons.

It was also highly offensive to all Muslims and has made us very angry.

If someone insults your family then that is something you take very seriously, but this is worse than that - this is the Prophet, who is higher than all of us.

It just goes to show that Europe and the West don't properly understand the Muslim way.

Given that there is enough hate in the world already, this just causes more hatred.

Shops here are removing Danish products from their shelves. We're right to boycott - it's the only peaceful way we can retaliate.

It's nothing to do with Danish companies but until the Danish government apologises the boycott should continue.

But, of course, it was not just Danish newspapers that published this, and there might be further boycotts against German and French products, for example, as their newspapers are also to blame.

There is enough animosity between Muslims and the West without this happening
I used to see Denmark as a peaceful country. But now this has changed. This was seen as a provocation and an act of hatred against Muslims.

It's not enough to just say this is all about freedom of expression. We respect freedom of expression but we know there are certain boundaries and limits.

It would not be right for us to publish jokes about Christianity or Hinduism.

I am worried this could all be taken as an excuse by some group to launch a violent response.

There is enough animosity between Muslims and the West without this happening.

It's a very dangerous situation.

KASPER AASTRUP MORTENSEN, AALBORG, DENMARK

Kasper Aastrup Mortensen
This whole thing has really gotten out of hand.

Muslims are reacting to this too strongly.

They also seem to think that our government has something to do with this and that they are connected to the media but, of course, they are not - unlike in many Muslim countries.

They need to realise that the newspaper has apologised and our prime minister has condemned this.

It really hurts us to see Danish flags being burnt. The whole thing is really surreal, to be honest.

Not all Danes are to blame for this, it was just the actions of one newspaper that caused this.

But the entire issue is about our right to freedom of expression and the whole thing has been taken out of context.

It started off as a domestic debate about how Muslims are depicted and the Danish newspaper in question asked some artists to express this in cartoon form, which they then published.

I would not want our freedom of expression to be limited in any way
It was meant to be a local debate but of course in our society now these things appear on the internet and anyone can see them.

To be honest, if I was the editor I wouldn't have published them, but if a newspaper really stands by its decision to publish something like this, I support that decision.

I would not want our freedom of expression to be limited in any way.

I think the whole thing has been a big misunderstanding to be honest. I don't see why so many Muslims outside of Denmark are so offended by this.

I have Muslim friends here who are not as offended - they have accepted the apology and just want to see an end to all of this.

I am worried there may be a terrorist attack in Denmark by some fundamentalists as a result of this.

AHMED OZALP, CAIRO, EGYPT

Ahmed Ozalp
A lot of people here are really offended by the cartoon.

My main problem with all of this is: What was the purpose of publishing this cartoon? Was it simply to offend? If so, they have certainly managed to do so.

It certainly appeared to be malicious, which is not in the spirit of freedom of speech.

In Europe there is a lot of uproar when anyone's sensibilities are offended.

Take, for example, when Prince Harry dressed up in a Nazi outfit. The discussion was not about freedom of speech but what is considered offensive.

It's the very same in this debate.

People have to be very careful when they publish something like this. They have to make sure they know what they are getting into.

I have discussed this with friends who view it as a very personal attack on them as Muslims. This one has hit a little too close to home.

Freedom of speech should be protected but it should be used responsibly
I am Muslim and I like to see myself as open-minded and I believe in freedom of speech, but it should be used responsibly.

But I do sympathise with others around me who have taken this to heart.

The fact is there is wave of prejudice against Muslims and Islam sweeping Europe and this was below the belt.

The perception of Islam in Europe needs to be addressed, but I'm not sure that publishing a full page of caricatures about the Prophet Muhammad is the way to go about it.

European misconceptions about Islam are perhaps understandable in the wake of the attacks in London and Madrid, but it's a small group of extremists doing this.

No doubt, there has been an overreaction on both sides of the argument.

The display of solidarity on the part of the European newspapers was an overreaction - to republish these pictures without context, just to take a stand, was wrong.

But then on the other side of the argument you have people making bomb threats, which is going way too far.

I hope it doesn't end like it did with Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands.

It's a good thing that it has opened up debate about perceptions of Muslims in Europe, but the arguments need to be more constructive in order for this to have a positive outcome.

The Danish failed to understand how offensive it is to caricature the Prophet Muhammad. In the Muslim world we are not even allowed to have any images of the Prophet Muhammad, never mind ones that caricature him.

But if lessons are learned from this, it will be a positive thing.

SOEREN RASMUSSEN, DENMARK

This has been totally blown out of all proportion.

It has escalated really suddenly.

I strongly believe in our right to debate - and this is an internal debate about relations between people of different beliefs in Denmark.

I am not really surprised this has happened.

There are a lot of extremists inside and outside Denmark who are just looking for an excuse to use this argument to serve their own purposes.

Danes are now really worried about the reaction to this
This cartoon has served it's purpose - to open up a domestic debate - and it's working.

Very few Muslims in Denmark seem to be taking offence to this.

I don't believe that moderate or educated Muslims would take any great offence.

Caricature is normal in Denmark.

What has also been ignored here is that these cartoons also featured pictures of Danish politicians - and no one was offended by that.

But Danes are now really worried about the reaction to this, especially from outside Denmark.

At the very least we are bound to lose out on a lot of trade with the Middle East.

We need to engage in proper discussion between both sides of this debate. We have to live together and achieve a certain understanding.

But the issues are also being blurred here, especially by the extremists, who don't want to debate.

I hope it will all die down soon.





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