The Royal Library in Copenhagen has agreed to house controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which were published in a Danish newspaper and created a wave of global protest in which more than 50 people were killed.
The caricatures were published in Danish newspapers in September, 2005, outraging Muslims and causing fatal demonstrations in Afghanistan and Somalia. Danish and European embassies were attacked in the Middle and Far East.
The Museum of Danish Cartoon Art, part of the Royal Library founded in the 17th century, would not disclose whether the cartoons would be put on show.
“We hope we can secure all of the works to preserve them for the future. The caricatures have become a part of Danish history,” Jytte Kjaergaard, a Royal Library spokeswoman, told The Art Newspaper.
The caricatures will be stored as historic artefacts alongside documents such as some of the original manuscripts of Martin Luther.
Kasem Said Ahmad, a spokesman for the Danish Muslim Society, which lead the initial campaign against the cartoons, said the decision was provocative but that his group would attempt to ignore the decision to treat the cartoons as historic documents.
"We will not be holding any demonstrations as we got nothing from the Danish courts when we tried to sue the newspapers. We will ignore all provocations in future."
The library is holding advanced talks with several of the artists who produced the drawings, but an agreement has yet to be reached. Several of the cartoonists have said they will donate their controversial drawings to the museum free of charge, but the library may have to negotiate a fee for some of the works.
One of the caricatures has already been sold to a private buyer with the revenue being donated to charity.
“We have generally agreed that we want a museum to have the works, but everyone still has to take a final decision for himself,” Claus Seidel, one of the cartoonists and head of the Danish cartoonists’ association, said.
“Nobody wants to make a lot of money, some of us are even willing to donate the works,” he said.
One of the cartoons that incited rioting across the Muslim world depicted the Prophet’s head on the body of a dog; another showed him with a bomb concealed in his turban.
The pictures were first printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllyands-Posten before being reproduced in Austria, Norway, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Protests from governments across the Islamic world were followed by increasingly violent street protests which saw the Danish Embassy in Damascus burnt down.
Three men who protested at the Danish Embassy in London were sentenced to six-year jail terms for incitement to murder and another was found guilty of inciting race hatred.
Source: Times Online