A few weeks, a newspaper in Denmark called for submissions for a caricature of Muhammad. If you know your Muslim religious law, you know that any representation of Muhammad is strictly forbidden. And yet, this Danish daily ran the cartoon, seen here:
The cartoon was then reprinted in papers across Europe, and evidenced by the above link, it’s all over the Internet.
As journalists, let’s think about this. We have free speech to run what we want, within legal reason. However, Muslims have religious freedom to practice as they wish, and this involves having no representations of Muhammad. What do you do? The Danish newspaper has defended its right to print the cartoon, and it has the support of the Danish government. However, the Danish Embassy in Lebanon has been burned and riots have started all over Europe over this issue.
When free speech and religious freedoms come into conflict, what do we do? Do we print, knowing that it is going to offend (and incite violence) from a large group of people or do we allow speech to be cooled by this group in fear of the repercussions?