COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The Danish newspaper that first published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad infuriating Muslims worldwide previously turned down cartoons of Jesus as too offensive, a cartoonist said on Wednesday.
Twelve cartoons of the Prophet published last September by Jyllands-Posten newspaper have outraged Muslims, provoking violent protests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. "My cartoon, which certainly did not offend any Christians I showed it to, was rejected because the editor felt it would be considered offensive to readers — readers in general, not necessarily Christians," cartoonist Christoffer Zieler said in an email he sent to Reuters on Wednesday.
Jens Kaiser, the former editor of Jyllands-Posten’s Sunday edition who turned down the cartoons three years ago, said he had done so because they were no good. "Having seen the cartoons, I found that they were not very good. I failed to see the purportedly provocative nature," he said in a statement.
"My fault is that I didn’t tell him what I really meant: The cartoons were bad." Kaiser said he told Zieler he had not used the cartoons because they were offensive to some readers.Zieler’s five colored cartoons portrayed Jesus jumping out of holes in floors and walls during his resurrection. In one, gnomes rated Jesus for style, another entitled "Saviour-cam" showed Jesus with a camera on his head staring at his feet.
"I do think the cartoons would offend some readers, but only because they were silly," Kaiser said. Unlike Muslims, who consider depictions of the Prophet to be deeply offensive, many Christians adorn churches with images and sculptures of Jesus. However, some Christian congregations have protested at portrayals they perceive as blasphemous, especially in the cinema. The editor of Jyllands-Posten has apologized for offending Muslims by printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, including one of the founder of Islam holding a bomb in his turban, but defended his right to do so in the interests of free speech. Dozens of newspapers in Europe and elsewhere have reproduced them with the same justification. "Perhaps explaining my story of three years ago in its proper context at least won’t make matters any worse," Zieler said.