Danish Cartoons Redux

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By: Steven Heller | December 4, 2009

In 2006 there was a “cartoon-crisis” at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which was triggered by the writer/journalist Kåre Bluitgen‘s book Koranen og profeten Muhammeds liv (The Qur’an and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad). Having difficulty finding illustrators for the book because they feared reprisals, Jyllands-Posten commissioned twelve cartoonists to have a try. The result ignited a violent international outburst and considerable debate (and fear) about the depiction of Muhammad. According to Bluitgen in a recent e-mail to me, “A controversy [is] still lingering in different parts of the world.”

Now, he says, a new version of the Quran is available for the Danish readers: “In fact I have just published two books: a new translation of the Quran (above) with comments (below) and–for the first time in history–a rewritten Quran. In this I enclose the Islamic traditions in the text itself, and the purpose is to let all Danes know about the Muslims’ holy book. So now young and old, Muslims (most Danish Muslims don’t read Arabic) and non-Muslims, can read the Quran which now includes all the magnificent stories about the hijra, the miraj, the satanic verses, the scandal of Aisha, the massacre of the Jews, the battles of Badr and Uhud etc. With these I do hope it’s possible to promote a better understanding between natives and immigrants and between different religions by knowing each others religious basics. And except for a few extremists, Muslims in Denmark have been positive, and the reviews are exceptional.”

(For a PDF version of my Dialogue column for Print in which I interviewed Bluitigen in May/June 2006, click here, then scroll through for the link.)

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