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Associated Press – January 30, 2008
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Denmark’s National Library plans to archive the original Prophet Muhammad caricatures that sparked violent protests across the Islamic world two years ago, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Despite objections from some Muslim leaders, the library in the Danish capital will preserve the 12 cartoons for research purposes but will not make them available to the public for at least 10 years, spokeswoman Jytte Pedersen said.
“It is not our intention to provoke or anything like that,” Pedersen said. “We are preserving them for future generations.”
The 12 cartoons were first published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on Sept. 30, 2005, and reprinted by a series of Western newspapers early the following year. Mass protests erupted in Muslim countries where the cartoons were widely seen as insulting. One of them showed Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a lit fuse.
The Copenhagen-based Islamic Faith Community, a network of Muslim groups which spearheaded protests against the cartoons in Denmark, said archiving the original drawings was a bad idea.
“It might again send the wrong signal to Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the world,” the network’s spokesman Kasem Ahmad said. He added that his organization was not planning any formal protest against the decision.
Danish imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen disagreed, saying it was important to preserve the cartoons as part of the historical record of “a very important event that turned the world upside down.”
Syria’s deputy ambassador to Denmark Raib Altbaab questioned the purpose of the collection.
“Do they have an intention of making more provocation or just to calm the situation?” he said. He cautioned that if the move was seen as provocative it could lead to a renewed boycott on Danish goods imposed in some Muslim countries during the cartoon crisis.
Eleven of the drawings are still in the hands of the cartoonists, while one was sold to a private buyer, said Claus Seidel of Denmark’s cartoonists’ association.
Jytte Pedersen, of the library, said she believed the artists would agree to donate the cartoons to the archives.
“The artists realize that this is the natural home of the illustrations and they want to have this important part of history kept in a safe place,” she said.
She was not sure whether the library would be able to acquire the cartoon that was sold to a private buyer.
“We would certainly like to have the entire collection but we will not be going out of our way to seek out the missing cartoon,” she said.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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