Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, said Friday that it will not republish Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, like other newspapers, because of security concerns. The newspaper had made Muslims angry 10 years ago, in September 2005, by publishing several cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The cartoons had led to widespread violent protests across the Muslim world, resulting in the deaths of at least 50 people. The publication of the cartoons triggered death threats against the newspaper's editorial staff, some of whom still live under police protection. And, after Wednesday's attack on the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people, the Danish newspaper has increased security at its office.
"We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or Charlie Hebdo’s," Jyllands-Posten said, according to Reuters, adding: "We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation."
Since Wednesday, several publications have reproduced Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in a show of solidarity with the magazine and as a sign of protest against the attacks. However, Jørn Mikkelsen, the managing editor of Jyllands-Posten, also said, in an online video segment on the paper’s website, that the decision to refrain from publishing the pictures was taken mainly to ensure the security of its employees.
"I maintain the right as editor to press all sorts of drawings again at some point. It is just not right now," Mikkelsen said, in a Danish-language post Thursday on the paper’s website, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, adding: "The truth is that to us, it would be completely irresponsible to print old or new prophet cartoons right now. Many would rather not admit that. I am, although very reluctantly."
Publications that chose not to publish Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons also faced a backlash on social media, with many calling it a cowardly act.
“I don’t think it’s a simple question of those who are republishing the images are right and those who are not republishing them are wrong,” Katy Culver, associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, adding: “There seems to be a vein of commentary on social media -- that any publication not republishing the cartoons at issue is somehow not standing in solidarity. I don’t buy that. I think it’s much more multilayered.”