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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 15:32 GMT
Cartoon editors face mixed fates
A French policeman stands on guard outside the office of Charlie Hebdo newspaper
Some newspapers have fared better than others in the controversy
Editors who have republished controversial cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad have faced a wide variety of different fates.

While some have been applauded for defending freedom of speech, others have been fired, arrested or received death threats.

Since the drawings appeared in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper last September, they have been republished in more than 60 newspapers.

They have been greeted by protests from Muslims around the world.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it was very concerned at the arrests of journalists and the closure of a number of newspapers.

The responses pointed to a serious deterioration of press freedoms, spokesman Jean-Francois Julliard said.

"We do not think it is the solution to try to scare every publication that published these cartoons," he said.

Cartoon ban

On Friday, the editor of the Peta newspaper in Indonesia was reportedly charged with blasphemy for reprinting the cartoons.

In Denmark, the culture editor of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper who first commissioned the cartoons was sent on indefinite leave after suggesting he would print Iranian cartoons of the Holocaust.

Afghan protesters in Kabul burn a Danish flag
There have been many violent protests against the cartoons

A day before, a Malaysian newspaper, the Sarawak Tribune, was shut indefinitely for reprinting the cartoons, on the ground that the government had banned possession of the images.

Earlier, the editors of two weekly newspapers in Jordan were arrested after they published the drawings.

Hashem al-Khalidi of al-Mehwar newspaper and Jihad Momani of Shihan newspaper - who was also fired - are both reported to be under police guard in hospital because of stress.

Two Yemeni newspapers have also been shut down, and the government has placed their editors under investigation.

Police guard

At the beginning of the month, the managing editor of France Soir, Jacques Lefranc, was fired by the newspaper's Franco-Egyptian owner after the French paper published all of the original cartoons.

The editor of Magazinet, a small Norwegian Christian newspaper that published the cartoons on 10 January, received death threats and has been under police protection.

In South Africa, the editor of the Mail and Guardian, Ferial Haffajee, said she received abusive letters and text messages after reprinting one of the drawings.

The police have advised us against talking to the media
Jyllands-Posten cartoonist

The cartoonists have not fared better.

One of the artists, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had received threats and that Danish police had warned them against public comment.

"Right now, focus is on Jyllands-Posten and the government... We benefit from that in terms of security. The police have advised us against talking to the media in order not to change this," he was quoted as saying.

The editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, has told the newspaper's website that it had received threats from as far away as Pakistan and offers of bounties on the heads of the illustrators.

Circulation boost

But some newspapers have reaped benefits from the row.

Ferial Haffajee, editor of the Mail and Guardian
South African editor Ferial Haffajee has received threats

The satirical French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, republished the cartoons on Wednesday, along with cartoons caricaturing Christianity and Judaism, leading some staff to be placed under police protection.

However, journalists at the paper told the Reuters news agency that the weekly had boosted its usual print run of 100,000 up to 320,000.

France Soir increased its sales by 40% when it published the cartoons, and circulation director Philippe Soing said that the paper's image could benefit.

"It shows we're capable of running scoops - and leading a battle for freedom of the press," he told the Associated Press news agency.


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