Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The Political Iconography of Muhammad Cartoons: Understanding Cultural Conflict and Political Action

  • Marion G. Müller (a1) and Esra Özcan (a1)
Extract

The controversy over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons that swept the globe at the beginning of 2006 was arguably the second major event after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that brought “Muslims” as a group of political actors to the forefront of international politics. The crisis was sparked in late September 2005, by the publication of political cartoons, depicting Islamic prophet Muhammad, in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. While the original cause of controversy was limited to a small country in northern Europe, political actions spread worldwide, ranging from peaceful protests to diplomatic sanctions to consumer boycotts, and finally to open violence against anything symbolizing “the West.” The levels of political action were muddled, and responsibilities as well as the potential to act were confused. Almost all of the actors involved in the controversy were left without an appropriate counterpart to address. For example, the Arab League and Muslim organizations blamed the Danish government for the publication of the cartoons, and for not taking action against the independent publisher of Jyllands-Posten. Enraged Muslim citizens of countries as geographically distant as Lebanon, Sudan, and Indonesia attacked and ransacked Danish embassies, and threatened anyone coming from a country belonging to the European Union. The editors of several newspapers—e.g., in France and Jordan—who had decided to reprint the cartoons either in an act of journalistic solidarity with Jyllands-Posten or to inform their Muslim readership about the cartoons, were fired. And, terrorist group Al Qaeda put the editor and cartoonists of Jyllands-Posten, as well as all of Denmark, at the top of its target list. The diplomatic fallout from the cartoon publication was enormous and has severely shattered relations between European and Arab countries. Despite the enormity of the event, the question of how the publication of 12 cartoons in Denmark could lead to a global crisis that dominated the news and kept diplomats and politicians on alert for more than three months remains unanswered.

Copyright
References
Hide All

References

Devji, Faisal. 2006. “Back to the Future: The Cartoons, Liberalism and Global Islam.” Open Democracy. August 13. www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=2&debateId=124&articleId=3451. Accessed August 23, 2006.
Freedom House. 2005. “Table of Global Press Freedom Rankings 2005.” Freedom House. www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=204&year=2005. Accessed August 5, 2006.
Hussain, Mustafa. 2000. “Islam, Media and Minorities in Denmark.” Current Sociology 48 (4): 95116.
Jahanpour, Farhang. 2006. “Cartoons, Caricatures and Civilizations.” Open Democracy. February 23. www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/PDF/3294.pdf. Accessed August 1, 2006.
Klausen, Jytte. 2006. “Rotten Judgment in the State of Denmark.” Spiegel Online. February 8. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,399653,00.html. Accessed February 8, 2006.
Knieper, Thomas, and Marion G. Müller. 2006. “ The Cartoon that Came Under Fire.” In Contemporary Media Ethics: A Practical Guide for Students, Scholars and Professionals, eds. Mitchell Land and Bill Hornaday. Spokane, WA: Marquette Books.
Müller, Marion G. 1997. Politische Bildstrategien im amerikanischen Präsidentschaftswahlkampf, 1828–1996. (Political Image Strategies in US-Presidential Campaigning, 1828–1996). Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
Müller, Marion G. 2003. Grundlagen der visuellen Kommunikation. (Basics of Visual Communication Research). UVK: Konstanz.
Müller, Marion G. 2004. “ Politologie und Ikonologie. Visuelle Interpretation als politologisches Verfahren. (Political Science and Iconology. Visual interpretation as a political science method).” In Politikwissenschaft als Kulturwissenschaft. Theorien, Methoden, Problemstellungen, ed. Birgit Schwelling. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
Panofsky, Erwin. 1972. Meaning in the Visual Arts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The Press Association. 2006. “Plea to bin Laden to Retaliate.” Scotsman.com. February 3. http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=177952006. August 15, 2006.
Rose, Flemming. 2006. “Why I published those Cartoons,” Washington Post, February 19, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/17/AR2006021702499.html. Accessed August 19, 2006.
Spiegel Online. 2006a. “ Jyllands-Posten Rejected Jesus Satire.” February 8. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,399840,00.html. Accessed February 9, 2006.
Spiegel Online. 2006b. “Interview with Muslim Leader Tariq Ramadan: We Have to Turn up the Volume of Reason.” February 9. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,399965,00.html. Accessed February 11, 2006.
Warnke, Martin. 1994. “ Politische Ikonographie: Hinweise auf eine sichtbare Politik. (Political Iconography: Hints of Visual Politics).” In Wozu Politikwissenschaft? Über das Neue in der Politik, ed. Claus Leggewie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Wren, Karen. 2001. “Cultural Racism: Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?Social & Cultural Geography 2 (2): 14162.
Yılmaz, Ferruh. 2006. “Religion as Social Ontology: The Muslim Immigrant in (Danish) Public Discourse.” Presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Dresden, Germany.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed