Anger over Prophet Mohammed cartoons: a timeline

The publication 15 years ago by a Danish newspaper of controversial drawings representing the Prophet Mohammed was just the beginning of a wave of outrage in the Muslim world.

The anger spread as other publications followed suit, defying a Muslim religious convention that forbids visual depictions of the prophet, seen as idolatry and thus blasphemous.

A timeline:

Danish cartoons

On September 30, 2005, the conservative Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the drawings under the headline "The Face of Mohammed".

The most infamous of the drawings was that by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, which showed the prophet concealing a bomb inside a turban.

Muslim officials demanded an apology from Denmark and Muslims demonstrated in Copenhagen in their thousands.

In early 2006, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen and a boycott of Danish products spread through the Arab world, hitting the country's exports.

On the internet, several Danish sites were targeted by hackers.

Global controversy

Several European newspapers, including a Norwegian Christian newspaper called Magazinet and the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris also ran the drawings, in the name of freedom of expression. The controversy went global.

In Gaza, armed groups threatened to vent their anger on Western journalists. In Beirut, Damascus and Tehran, in Indonesia, Somalia, Nigeria and Afghanistan, violent demonstrations, attacks and torchings of European embassies left dozens dead.

A number of journalists and the chiefs of the publications concerned were taken to court, but acquitted. They included Philippe Val, the then chief at Charlie Hebdo in March 2007, followed by Algerian public television journalists in October.

In February 2008, just when the situation seemed to have calmed down, the re-publication by 17 Danish newspapers of the most controversial cartoon after a failed attack on the artist revived anger in numerous Muslim countries.


In June 2008, a suicide attack claimed by al-Qaeda against the Danish embassy in Islamabad left six dead.

In early 2010, Danish police caught a 28-year-old Somalian armed with a knife in the artist Westergaard's house, where he was planning to kill him.

In February 2015, Danish-born Omar El-Hussein shot dead a filmmaker outside a free speech event attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks -- who in 2007 portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a dog -- hours before killing a Jewish man outside a synagogue.

In May 2015 in the United States police shot dead two armed men who opened fire in a Dallas suburb in Texas near to a centre hosting a competition of Mohammed cartoons organised by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

One of the invitees was the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who had made a film in 2008 linking terrorism and Islam.

Attack on Charlie Hebdo

In November 2011, an arson attack was carried out at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, in response to its edition renamed "Charia (Sharia) Hebdo" with the prophet caricatured on the cover.

Then on January 7, 2015, two French jihadists killed 12 people, including five artists, at the offices of the weekly, which had received death threats for its publication of caricatures of Mohammed. The attackers were shot by police on their third day on the run.

The publication a week later of an edition of the newspaper featuring a drawing of the prophet on its cover led to violent demonstrations around the Muslim world, during which 10 died in Niger.

On September 2, as the trial of men accused of being accomplices in the massacre of the newspaper's staff opened, the newspaper republished the caricatures, to the ire of several Muslim states. Al-Qaeda again threatened to attack its editorial staff.

Three weeks into the trial, a man armed with a knife seriously wounded two people in a suspected terror attack outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices. He said he was responding to the drawings.

Topics: Mohammed , Religion , France , Denmark , Cartoon , Charlie Hebdo
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.