Perils of Depicting the Prophet

Protests erupted across the Muslim world last week after European newspapers, out of concern for freedom of the press, reprinted controversial Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

Why the big reaction? For devout Muslims, even benign images of the Prophet are considered blasphemous. And many Muslims viewed the Danish cartoons--one of which depicts him wearing a bomb-shaped turban--as an attempt to equate their faith with terrorism.

Does the Koran forbid images of the Prophet? Not explicitly, but some passages are interpreted as a ban. The Hadith, a compilation of Islamic traditions, specifically forbids the depiction of God and his prophets--including Jesus....

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