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Depictions stir up outrage, censors

Depictions stir up outrage, censors

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An attack at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French weekly, left 12 people dead Wednesday. The perpetrators were allegedly responding to controversial cartoons the newspaper has published, sometimes showing the prophet Muhammad naked, other times showing him as sickly and in a wheelchair. Here is a look back at other controversies that caused outrage in the Muslim world and steps that were taken to prevent any dangerous backlash.

Danish cartoons

In 2006, cartoons published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and reprinted in the Norwegian paper Magazinet depicted Muhammad in an unflattering light, including one that showed him wearing a bomb in his turban. The cartoons sparked outrage among Muslims and resulted in protests throughout the Middle East, as well as threats of retaliation against those involved in the drawings. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark, while Libya closed its embassy in Copenhagen.

Mozart opera pulled

After the Danish cartoon controversy, a leading Berlin opera house pulled Mozart's "Idomeneo" over fears that it could lead to dangerous reactions. In one scene, King Idomeneo "presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha."

Swedish drawings

A year and a half after the outrage over the Danish cartoons, Swedish artist Lars Vilks displayed a rough sketch at a Stockholm seminar that showed Muhammad's head on a pig's body. The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq announced a reward for the killing of Vilks as well as another Swedish newspaper editor who published the cartoon.

Met pulls three paintings

In a precautionary move, the Metropolitan Museum of Art pulled three early paintings of the prophet before the images were unveiled as part of its Islamic collection.

'South Park' censorship

"South Park," known for its brazen depictions of Jesus, Scientologists, Catholics and Jews, attempted to feature Muhammad in 2010. The show had done that two times before, but this attempt was stalled. After receiving threats from extremist groups, Comedy Central bleeped out all references to Muhammad, and all images of the prophet were censored.

Draw Mohammed Day

In 2010, Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris proposed that everybody create a drawing depicting Muhammad, as a response to death threats against those involved in the "South Park" segment. Norris drew a variety of objects, including a box of pasta and coffee cup, likening those to the prophet. The then-leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki, said Norris had been put on an execution hit list.

'Innocence of Muslims'

A 14-minute, low-budget YouTube video released in 2012 led to protests across the Muslim world. The video depicted Muhammad as a womanizer, child molester, homosexual and thug. The demonstrations led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, and there are some reports that the clip provoked the 2012 terrorist attack in the Libyan city of Benghazi that left a U.S. ambassador dead.


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