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2006-03-07

One of the the many criticisms against Jyllands-Posten has been that it published the 12 Satanic Cartoons in spite of being warned. This false information was launched by the competing newspaper Politiken Jyllands-Posten was warned against Muslim anger (Danish text, my translation).

»I don't remember everything I said then - and I couldn't have guessed all the consequences. But I told Jyllands-Posten, that although history doesn't show an unequivocal tradition for not depicting Muhammed, there would no doubt be Muslims, who would be offended«, says the religious historian Tim Jensen, South-Danish University.


This is the way to start rumours: Tim Jensen doesn't remember what he had said 4 months ago, but he is certain that he was able to predict the burning embassies, the killed Christians and the 150 death threats against the cartoonists.

It has taken some time to get to the root of the rumour. According to an article in the Journalist, Jyllands-Posten had trouble finding out exactly what Tim Jensen had said to whom - and when (Danish text, my translation):

On the front page on the competition's Sunday paper there's an interview with religious historian Tim Jensen. The article says among other things that Jyllands-Posten was so much in doubt about whether they could publish the Muhammed-drawings that they "consulted one of the country's leading religious historians".

The story about Tim Jensen's warning now starts to circulate - also outside the borders of the country.

Politiken's article makes chief editor Jørn Mikkelsen broadcast a mail within the house to find out, who has spoken with Tim Jensen. It turns out that an employee - at the end of a conversation about something completely different - has mentioned the initiative. Tim Jensen's remarks have not been passed on to Jyllands-Posten's board of directors, explains Jørn Mikkelsen.

»Politiken writes that we as a newspaper were warned in advance, and this is simply factually wrong. In the middle of a swamp of harmful rumours we have also had to consider this nonsense, which has circulated in the whole world and really poured gasoline on the fire« says Jørn Mikkelsen.


And the rumour did indeed spread over the world - and has become one more myth that Jyllands-Posten had to fight against, whenever they were interviewed by Arabian or Middle East journalists: "Jyllands-Posten has clearly been out to provoke Muslims" - so the story goes - "since they knew beforehand that Muslims would react as violently as they did".

As Time Magazine wrote February 20th (subscription required):

If nothing else, the editors of Jyllands-Posten--a right-of-center newspaper based in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city--knew that publishing cartoon images of Muhammad would get them attention. That was the point: last September the paper's culture editor, Flemming Rose, invited 40 Danish cartoonists to submit caricatures of the Prophet in a deliberate attempt to provoke a debate about what Rose perceived as the stifling of coverage of issues related to Islam and Denmark's 200,000 Muslim residents. A leading Danish religious historian, Tim Jensen, warned that some Muslims would take offense at the images, citing a widely, although not unanimously, observed taboo against physical representations of the Prophet. But the paper published the 12 submissions it received anyway, on Sept. 30.


Jyllands-Posten has now found the original tape recording from the interview (Jyllands-Posten did not receive expert-warnings against Mohammed-drawings). It turns out, that
  1. The conversation with Tim Jensen took place 30th September, i.e. the same day the cartoons were printed. Thus any claim that Tim Jensen had warned Jyllands-Posten beforehand is false.
  2. The purpose of the conversation was not to seek advice, but to get a commentary for a follow-up article. Thus the claim that Jyllands-Posten asked him because they had doubts are also false.
  3. Tim Jensen did not warn against "violent reactions" to the publishing of the cartoons. All he said was that "some Muslims would think it was wrong".

I myself thought the story sounded fishy - and I wrote Politiken 7th February - one month ago - to tell them so. Politiken promised me an answer, but I'm still waiting.

See also Drawings of the Prophet - is it allowed?

Comments:
Very good investigative "journalism" from you - congrats, Ateist! I like reading stuff which blows myths, false rumours and disinformation. Keep your efforts up!
 
I cant seem to get in touch with the newspaper which published such ridiculous cartoons.
So here is me exercising My freedom of speech

To the newspaper who published the cartoon:

I was just browsing the internet and came across the pictures YOU published in your newspaper about the Prophet Muhammed (may peace and blessings be upon him.) I can not believe the journalist who drew the cartoon is 'educated', an educated man would not draw such ridiculous and false images, he must research on issues before he decides to actually make a point, as how would he like it if he were to be drawn and portrayed on false pretences. The journalist has no right to do that I must say he seems very uncivilised, as for someone who exercises freedom of speech surely I really doubt why he was hired as to me he seems illiterate, this is truthfully speaking and he has surely done an act of terrorism by literally hurting millions. I wonder how he lives with such a concious, I guess he has no heart or brain.
Thank you
And next time you decide to publish something please think:)
 
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