Danish paper wins appeal in Prophet cartoons case

Copenhagen, Denmark - A Danish appeals court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit against the newspaper that first printed the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2005, saying they were not intended to insult Muslims.

The Western High Court said it was not proven that Jyllands-Posten's purpose in printing the cartoons was to depict Muslims as criminals or terrorists.

The court in Aarhus, 125 miles northwest of Copenhagen, upheld last year's lower court ruling, which rejected claims by Danish Muslims that the 12 drawings were meant to insult the prophet and make a mockery of Islam.

Islamic law forbids any depiction of Prophet Muhammad. One of the most controversial drawings showed the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a burning fuse.

The Jyllands-Posten daily has apologized and said it had not intended to offend Muslims. But it stands by its decision to print the drawings to challenge a perceived self-censorship.

"We are very disappointed and sad about the outcome," said Mohammed Nehme, a spokesman for Islamic Faith Community, one of seven groups that appealed the lower court ruling. "We had hoped it would be in our favor but now we have the court's word that what they did was in order."

Nehme said the group had not yet decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The court ruled that terror acts have been carried out in the name of Islam, and that it was not illegal under Danish law to make satirical drawings to illustrate that.

The Muslim groups filed the defamation suit in March 2007 after Denmark's top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy.

The caricatures were reprinted in European newspapers in 2006, fueling protests in the Islamic world. Some turned violent, and protesters were killed in Libya and Afghanistan.

In February, Danish papers reprinted a prophet cartoon, stirring more anger.

On June 2, a bomb attack outside the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killed six people. An al-Qaida commander said it was carried out to fulfill a pledge by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's pledge to avenge the reprinting of the prophet cartoon.