New Chapter In Flap Over 2005 Muhammad Cartoons When a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, it led to riots and deaths around the world. Yale University Press recently published a book about the controversy, called The Cartoons That Shook the World, but fear of more violence led the publisher to remove the cartoons from the book.

New Chapter In Flap Over 2005 Muhammad Cartoons

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And now to another book that comes with some political baggage. The story begins in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons led to riots around the world. Some 200 people were killed. Yale University Press has just published a book about the controversy called "The Cartoons that Shook the World."

And as Diane Orson of member station WNPR reports, that book has sparked a controversy of its own.

Unidentified Group: No place for hate. No place for hate.

ORSON: About a dozen Yale University students are protesting a visit by Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew the now-iconic image of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a lit bomb in his turban with the creed of Islam written in Arabic on the wrappings.

Mr. KURT WESTERGAARD (Danish Cartoonist): For some people, I am a kind of provocation. I go for the dialogue but it is very easy. I have tried to speak with many Muslims and often the conversation has ended up in a curse - you know, go to hell and burn up. And I have asked, perhaps we could talk in hell?

ORSON: There were many different reasons why Muslims were upset. Jytte Klausen is a politics professor at Brandeis University. She was in the Middle East at the time of the cartoon controversy, interviewing Muslim leaders for another project. She signed a deal with Yale University Press to write an academic book unraveling the events that led to the violence. In doing her research, Klausen found out imams and activists in Denmark exploited the cartoons to incite Muslims around the world. She also learned that demonstrations which followed were sponsored in part by radical Islamists, and in part by governments.

Professor JYTTE KLAUSEN (Comparative Politics, Brandeis University): The Egyptian government and the Turkish government were extremely instrumental in pushing forward the conflict. They primarily wanted to put on record with the United Nations that Europeans and Westerners discriminate against Muslims and are Islamophobic.

ORSON: Klausen, who's Danish, spent three years researching the book. The manuscript went through the usual academic peer review process. Then, just a few weeks before publication, Yale University - which owns the Yale Press -mounted a second review. The university asked some 20 scholars, counterterrorism officials, and national security experts to assess the risk of more violence if copies of the cartoons were included in the book.

Mr. JOHN DONATICH (Director, Yale University Press): And it was fairly overwhelming...

ORSON: Yale Press director John Donatich.

Mr. DONATICH: The people who knew the most about this kind of situation said don't do it, that this is likely to provoke violence.

ORSON: One of the experts was former director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte.

Mr. JOHN NEGROPONTE (Former Director of National Intelligence): I felt that there was a considerable risk that more violence, possibly even resulting in serious injury or death, could occur as a result of the publication of these images.

ORSON: The university told the press to eliminate the cartoons from the book along with all other images of the Prophet Muhammad. Klausen was told she'd have to sign a nondisclosure agreement if she wanted to read the experts' comments - she declined to do so. But she says she was even more dismayed to learn that the panel had not read her book.

Prof. KLAUSEN: My first reaction was that it was stunningly similar to what happened during the conflict itself. And I disagreed with the experts' advice. I felt, had the experts read my book, they would not have given the advice they've produced.

ORSON: Still, Klausen decided to publish with Yale Press.

Tarek Masoud of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government says both sides were grappling with sensitivity to Muslims and Islamic culture. On one hand, Yale didn't want to offend Muslims by reprinting the images.

Prof. TAREK MASOUD (Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government): But I would also argue that Professor Klausen is coming from a similar place as well, that you can publish the cartoons without inciting violence, that Muslims are not really these excitable people who are irrationally given over to violence and anger.

ORSON: Back on campus, Yale student Fatima Ghani says she's glad Yale Press took the cartoons out of the book. She says they're not an expression of free speech, but hate speech.

Ms. FATIMA GHANI (Student, Yale University): People don't see this the same way they would see a swastika or they would see the N-word. They see bigotry against Muslims in a separate category as they see bigotry against other races or religions.

ORSON: But critics from the American Association of University Professors, to the PEN American Center, have opposed Yale's decision to publish a scholarly book without including the images of the very subject the book covers. Some people charge that the university is concerned with its image in the Middle East. Klausen says Yale overreacted.

Prof. KLAUSEN: I cannot recall any similar instance where anticipatory fear of adverse consequences to Yale University, private interests, or perhaps more general public interests, have ever influenced how a book is presented and how a scholarly debate can proceed.

ORSON: Klausen says she hopes that a later edition of the book may include the cartoons. In the meantime, she's begun thinking about another project, a look at the impact of national security on the world of academic publishing.

For NPR News, I'm Dianne Orson in New Haven.

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