Violence and the Sacred

January 2, 2010. Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was attacked in his home by an axe- and knife-wielding Somali man linked to the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia. The man broke into his home and shouted that he intended to kill Westergaard, who immediately fled with his five-year-old grand-daughter to a secure room and called the police. When the police arrived, the Somali man threatened them with the axe and was shot in a knee and a hand.

Westergaard has received death threats from Islamic extremists since 2005, when he published 12 satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoon sparked riots and boycotts of Danish goods across the Muslim world.

In a related story, lawmakers in Ireland passed an anti-blasphemy law last July, and it came into force on January 1. The law prohibits the publication of anything “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

In Ireland, any of the following images might be barred from publication, depending on how “grossly abusive” they are judged to be:



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One Response to “Violence and the Sacred”

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