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Describes and analyses recent reaction in various countries of Middle East on recent publications in Danish press.


We live in the time of instant mass communications, where information can be transmitted by all modern means of communications such as radio, TV and internet. However, mass media in Western society should exercise some cautions on several sensitive topics and subjects such as religious beliefs of other people. Last year, one Danish paper published some cartoons that depicted and derided Prophet Mohammed. The publication produced negative reactions on the parts of several Asian and Northern African nations where urgings for the boycott of Danish goods, were heard and even ambassadress were recalled from Denmark. In spite of this reaction (or maybe just due to it), French and German newspapers decided to follow the example of Danish colleagues by republishing above mentioned cartoons. The newspapers claimed that they had legitimate right to publish whatever material they see fit and that they had depicted and laughed at religious beliefs of various people in the past.

It is a well-known fact that France Soir had been experiencing some financial problems and it was determined and was resolved to attract the attention of the public and mass media representatives around the world. Whereas French paper maintained that the cartoons were harmless and should not be regarded as offensive or derogatory, other Western European newspaper Geram Wielt stated that they regretted that Danish newspaper apologized for publishing of the cartoons. According to these newspapers there is a legitimate right in western society to criticize or laugh at all aspects of religious life, and Islam must not be an exception from the rule. One must recall what scandal such publication caused in Muslim countries and Muslim communities around the world. Such dairy companies as Arla foods lost several million dollars and even fired several workers due to the negative impact of the boycott. Some of the nations even recalled their ambassadors or closed their embassies in the Denmark.

In spite of the fact that such actions might be futile (as the Government could not exercise their control over the independent newspapers in European nations), yet some reactions in Muslim countries should be examined and the most important points of this controversial issue should be studied. In spite of the fact that Government has no power to control the editorial policy of independent newspapers in many instances there are some self –imposed restraints in the policy of independent mass media. Few of well-established and reputable newspapers would think to stoop to the level of poorly educated person who derives some perverted pleasure from provoking or offending feelings or beliefs of other people. However, those newspapers that experience either financial difficulties or the lack of readers might republish whatever they would like to in a desperate effort to get the attention of the public and international mass media, and maybe even some copywriter. That is why mild reaction or the absence of the reaction whatsoever is the best option to prevent the republishing of this type of material as they are destined mostly to bring the exact reaction that Danish cartoons brought.

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