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Newspapers reprint Prophet Mohammed cartoon

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: European newspapers reprint cartoon that sparked Muslim protests in 2006
  • Prophet Mohammed drawing depicts its subject prophet wearing a bomb as a turban
  • Danish police: Several arrested for plotting terror-related assassination Tuesday
  • Newspaper says the target was its cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, behind the cartoon
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(CNN) -- Newspapers across Europe Wednesday reprinted the controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked worldwide protests two years ago.

The move came one day after Danish authorities arrested three people allegedly plotting a "terror-related assassination" of Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the drawing.

Berlingske Tidende, was one of the newspapers involved in the republication by newspapers in Denmark. It said: "We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper always will defend," in comments reported by The Associated Press.

Newspapers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands also republished the drawing Wednesday as part of their coverage of Tuesday's arrests.

The image, by Morgenavisen Jullands-Posten cartoonist Westergaard, was one of 12 cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed originally published in September 2005. Westergaard's cartoon depicted the prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse.

Violent demonstrations erupted across the world in early 2006 after other newspapers reprinted the images as a matter of free speech. The uproar came as some Muslims believe it is forbidden by the Quran to show an image of the prophet.

Many protesters directed their ire at Denmark, prompting the closure of several Danish embassies in predominantly Muslim countries, including Indonesia and Pakistan. There were also attacks on other diplomatic missions in Iran and Syria among others.

The Danish Foreign Ministry has said it is keeping a watch on the situation at its embassies and has yet to report any incidents.

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Muslim leaders in Denmark Wednesday attacked the republication of the cartoon, as well as the alleged murder plot, while calling for calm. Imam Mostafa Chendid, chief of the Islamic Faith Community, told AP his group was discussing whether to hold a demonstration before parliament, adding: "We are so unhappy about the cartoon being reprinted."

"No blood was ever shed in Denmark because of this, and no blood will be shed. We are trying to calm down people, but let's see what happens. Let's open a dialogue."

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service Tuesday said police arrested a 40-year-old Dane of Moroccan origin and two Tunisians in the Aarhus area of western Denmark following lengthy surveillance.

The Danish citizen is charged with a terrorism offense, the intelligence service said, and the Tunisians will be deported. Police have not yet released the names of the three.

The target of the plot, the intelligence service said, was the cartoonist for the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jullands-Posten, which first published the controversial drawings in September 2005. The paper identified the cartoonist as Kurt Westergaard. Video Watch how threats have targeted cartoonists »

"Not wanting to take any undue risks [the intelligence service] has decided to intervene at a very early stage in order to interrupt the planning and the actual assassination," the statement by Jakob Scharf, the agency's director general, said. "Thus, this morning's operation must first and foremost be seen as a preventive measure where the aim has been to stop a crime from being committed."

Westergaard has previously said that he wanted his cartoon to say that some people exploited the prophet to legitimize terror. However, many in the Muslim world interpreted the drawing as depicting their prophet as a terrorist.

"Of course I fear for my life after the Danish Security and Intelligence Service informed me of the concrete plans of certain people to kill me," Westergaard said in a statement posted on the newspaper's Web site. "However, I have turned fear into anger and indignation. It has made me angry that a perfectly normal everyday activity which I used to do by the thousand was abused to set off such madness."

CNN's Paula Newton said the arrests reinforced growing fears in Europe that radical Islam was trying to suppress free speech.

"More and more Europeans feel that Islam is a threat to their way of life," Newton said. A recent Gallup poll for the World Economic Forum showed a majority of Europeans believed relations between the West and the Muslim world were worsening. According to the poll this sentiment was strongest held among Danish.

Westergaard remains under police protection and does not know whether it will continue.

"I could not possibly know for how long I have to live under police protection; I think, however, that the impact of the insane response to my cartoon will last for the rest of my life," he said. "It is sad indeed, but it has become a fact of my life."


Carsten Juste, the paper's editor-in-chief, said staffers have been "deeply worried" for several months.

"The arrests have hopefully thwarted the murder plans," he said on the newspaper's Web site. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Saeed Ahmed contributed to this report

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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