The Mohammed Cartoons, Ten Years Later

If you appreciate this essay by Fjordman, please consider making a donation to him, using the button at the bottom of this post.

The Mohammed Cartoons, Ten Years Later
by Fjordman

On September 30, 2005, the major Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial cartoons, most of them depicting Islam’s founder and alleged prophet Muhammad.[1] Despite the fact that the cartoons were generally rather innocent, the very fact that they portrayed Mohammed caused outrage among many Muslims, who considered this an act of blasphemy. The Muslim anger over the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten did not peak immediately, however. It was carefully cultivated by certain Muslim groups. International reaction reached its highest and most violent point in the early months of 2006, with the burning of embassies and some deaths.

A number of Islamic terrorist plots to murder the staff of Jyllands-Posten have been uncovered and prevented in the years since then. Several key individuals involved in publishing the cartoons in 2005, for instance the then-editors Carsten Juste and Flemming Rose, still live with death threats and police protection a decade later.

The Danish artist Kurt Westergaard created the most controversial cartoon, of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. The artist has since been a personal target of Islamic assassination attempts because of this. Westergaard, now 80 and retired from satire, talks passionately about being one of the most hated men in the Islamic world. “I think I still have a basic feeling of anger. I worked as a Danish cartoonist according to the Danish traditions. I had done nothing wrong. I had criticized an authority — in this case it was a religion. A big religion. And I think it’s a cartoonist’s and satirist’s job to criticize those in power, whether they are in this case a religion or it is a political party. If you work according to the Danish traditions then you offend people.”[2]

In a twist of irony, Ahmed Akkari, an imam and former radical Muslim who helped whip up international anger against Denmark in late 2005, later recanted and apologized for his actions. Fellow Muslims seem to regard his change of heart as sincere. As a result, Akkari, too, now receives death threats from his former allies. He currently lives in internal exile in Greenland, where there are more walruses than Muslims.[3]

In hindsight, it is obvious that the major relevance of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons controversy was the imposition of Islamic blasphemy laws on Europe and the wider Western world. We should submit to Islamic rule and Islamic law as obedient dhimmis. That was the real issue back then, and remains so today.

On September 26, 2015, an international conference was held in Copenhagen: The Danish Muhammad cartoon crisis in retrospect. The conference was held under heavy police security at Christiansborg Castle, behind the fortress-like walls of Denmark’s Parliament. It was arranged by the Danish Free Press Society (Trykkefrihedsselskabet). I was present in the audience. The speakers were Vebjørn Selbekk, Henryk Broder, Douglas Murray and Mark Steyn.

Vebjørn Selbekk was the editor of a small Christian newspaper that reprinted the Mohammed cartoons in Norway in early 2006. Because of this, he received dozens of very explicit death threats from Muslims.[4] He was also shamefully stabbed in the back by the Labour Party-led government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who cowardly caved in to Islamic pressure and violent threats. Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen showed some spine in the face of international Muslim pressure in 2005 and 2006. Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg showed absolutely no spine at all in the same situation. Both of these men later became Secretary General of the Western defense alliance NATO.

The British writer and commentator Douglas Murray noted how surreal it is that we talk about this as the “Cartoon Crisis”. Hardly anybody in the Western world would have understood the concept of a “cartoon crisis” if you asked them in 1988. Is that when somebody makes an incorrect drawing of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck? Murray also commented that it is always a small number of people who defend freedom of speech. Most people simply want safety and comfort, and therefore follow the path of least resistance.[5]

The Polish-born German-Jewish author Henryk Broder was pessimistic about the state of affairs.[6] He feared that we may be witnessing the collapse of European civilization. After every single act of Islamic Jihadist aggression, from the September 11 attacks in 2001 via the Mohammed cartoons to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015, Muslim immigration to the Western world has continued or even increased. Europe is currently witnessing an influx of illegal immigrants from the Islamic world and Africa of unprecedented proportions. Germany alone could receive one million asylum seekers in 2015, many of them Muslims. They join the several million Muslims of Turkish, Kurdish or Arab origins who already live in the country. The only thing senior political leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been doing about this is welcoming the flood of illegal immigrants. At the same time, she denounces skeptical voices of reason as hateful extremists.

By comparison, the Canadian-born author and conservative commentator Mark Steyn injected some measured optimism into the audience. He, too, is greatly concerned about what is happening. He understands the stakes, and is appalled at how few publications in the English-speaking world republished the Mohammed cartoons. Many writers are less effective public speakers. I count myself as one of them, which is why I do not give public speeches. Steyn, however, is very eloquent and naturally funny. He is good as a writer and public speaker, and equally adept at TV and radio. Mark Steyn could probably talk about the end of the known universe and still make people laugh. Given the depressing state of Western civilization these days, that is a useful quality.[7]

In the evening, some people from the audience gathered at a local pub in Copenhagen. We were eventually joined by Douglas Murray and Mark Steyn. We were all drinking beer and talking, as people normally do in pubs. In fact, it could have been a perfectly random Saturday night out, had it not been for the armed police guards standing outside. I presume they were from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET). The Danish writer and Islam-critic Lars Hedegaard was present. He has previously been targeted with assassination attempts. Some of the people I talked to have suffered less dramatic, but still troublesome events. One lady had recently lost her job, simply for being a peaceful critic of Islam and mass immigration. Even I have joined the growing number of Europeans who no longer have a publicly listed address or telephone number.

Upon leaving, I thought of what Douglas Murray had said a few hours earlier. Perhaps it is always a small number of people who defend freedom of speech. If so, it is a pleasure to meet so many of them in one place.


1. Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
2. Free speech at issue 10 years after Muhammad cartoons controversy 30.09.2015.
3. Muhammed-sagens hovedpersoner mærker stadig følgerne hver dag 29.09.15.
4. The Norwegian Cartoon Crisis in retrospect 27. September 2015.
5. Douglas Murray i København 30.09.2015.
6. Henryk Broder At The Danish Muhammad Cartoon Crisis In Retrospect 30. September 2015.
7. Mark Steyn At The Danish Muhammad Cartoon Crisis In Retrospect 30. September 2015.

Photos of Vebjørn Selbekk, Douglas Murray, Henryk Broder, and Mark Steyn are © 2015 Peder Jensen.


For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.

10 thoughts on “The Mohammed Cartoons, Ten Years Later

  1. As noted in a post at Jihad Watch, Jyllands-Posten marked the anniversary of the Motoons’ publication by reprinting the page — only with blank spaces where the original cartoons appeared. This is in itself an artistic editorial statement. “So far have we fallen,” it says. Meanwhile, for a real Muhammad cartoon see the art for this story:

    That was my entry to the Muhammad Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas in May, that was attacked by two jihadis from an Arizona mosque. Both of the attackers were shot to death with a .45 automatic very like the one I carry — and with which I stand ready to deliver a like response to any such vermin who try conclusions with me.

    • Semi-automatic.

      There are no .45 automatic pistols that I know of. Certainly not the one that dispatched those aspiring jihadis in Garland.

      • Back in 1911 when Browning’s original .45 semi-auto pistol was adopted by the Army it was officially referred to as the “Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45”, or “.45 automatic pistol”. And Colt continued to call it that.

        In function it’s a semi-auto but it has a long tradition of being called a “.45 automatic”.

        • As the master pistolero and Border Patrol Officer Bill Jordan said in his book “No Second Place Winner,” Yeah, I know. But we’ll call it an “automatic,” like everybody else does.

  2. It was a sublime event indeed. I booked the flights without any thought of asking a question, but ask one I did. I thought Mark Steyn was pretty non-commital on my proposal of a ‘European Democratic Party’ to contest otherwise meaningless European elections on a counter-jihad ticket. I suspect in part because if he gave a nod to the idea he’d be expected to help get it off the ground.

    I remember a member of the French Resistance recall how he used to listen to Churchill on the BBC and didn’t understand a word he was saying but knew what he was saying meant we were going to win.

    I understand perfectly what Mark Steyn, Douglas Murray (and Melanie Phillips) are saying, but if they don’t say it in the electoral arena I know that what they are saying means we’re going to lose.

    European elections are like a British bye-election – they’re there for a protest vote. 2018 could be a great opportunity for the people of Europe to give our leaders the kick in the pants they need. We can’t defeat jihad by being ‘politically correct’. Political correctness enables jihad. A European Guantanamo, increased military spending and policies to defuse the demographic timebomb I believe would chime with a huge swathe of Europeans. It would be tragic to miss such an opportunity. The meeting in Copenhagen should have got massive media coverage and got next to none. Big hitters like Steyn, Murray and Phillips sat in a row to announce the formation of an ‘EDP’ to contest the 2018 European elections to defend the market place of ideas against jihad could be a game changer.

  3. Thanks for the write-up, Fjordman. Thanks, too, for putting your neck out for the rest of us: it takes guts to make a stand against the PC status quo.

  4. Fjordman/Jensen, have you ever read Celine? His bitter last trilogy, especially, where he escapes through Germany 44-45. You risk sounding so bitter and hateful, I dont think your soul is benefiting from it.

    • I don’t see this “bitter and hateful” sound to which you refer. Could you give a few specific sentences? I have always found Fjordman to be understated, but that is my American hearing of his words – perhaps you could inform us?

      Now Celine is another story. Nothing so bitter as a bileful Frenchman.

Comments are closed.