A row over controversial satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has escalated into a diplomatic cold war between the West and Muslim countries.
Managing editor of the French daily France Soir Jacques Lefranc was sacked after his paper printed the drawings. “It isn’t a debate about Islam, nor is it a debate about Muslims,” he said. “It’s a debate about the freedom of expression. The question is whether people living in a secular and democratic society should be allowed to draw caricatures of divinities,” he added. France Soir is one of a series of European papers to reprint the drawings which originally appeared in the Danish daily, Jyllands Posten. They have sparked a wave of protests and boycotts throughout the Muslim world. This morning, a group of Palestinian gunmen surrounded the European Union’s headquarters in Gaza demanding an apology. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has condemned the drawings but says he cannot apologise on behalf of the independent media, has summoned foreign envoys to Copenhagen on Friday for talks on the crisis. On the diplomatic front, both Syria and Saudi Arabia have recalled their ambassadors. The crisis has also had a commercial impact. A boycott on Danish products has forced one Scandinavian company to lay off staff.