Newspapers across Europe are reprinting cartoons that ridicule the prophet Muhammad in solidarity with papers in Denmark and Norway that have become the subjects of widespread protests in the Muslim world.
Germany's Die Welt published one of the offending caricatures on Wednesday's front page, proclaiming the "right to blasphemy" is a democratic freedom. Other wide-circulation papers to make the gesture include Italy's La Stampa, Le Soir in France and the Spanish El Periodico. Le Soir fired its managing director yesterday, and apologized to the Muslim community.
The French newspaper coupled the cartoons with a column by a French theologian, Sohaib Bencheikh, who wrote, "One must find the borders between freedom of expression and freedom to protect the sacred. Unfortunately, the West has lost its sense of the sacred."
Protests and boycotts have spread across the Middle East and Europe,following publication of the cartoons - which include a drawing of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. The Islamic faith considers any depiction of the prophet to be blasphemous. Someone phoned a bomb threat into the conservative Danish daily, Jyllands-Posten. The Washington Post reports there have been calls for a religious degree to attack Danish troops serving in Iraq.