About 300 people rallied outside the newspaper’s offices, demanding an apology and saying the cartoon, a rough sketch showing Muhammad’s head on a dog’s body, was insulting to Muslims, the news agency TT reported.
“We want to show Nerike’s Allehanda that Muslims in this city are upset over what happened,” Jamal Lamhamdi, chairman of the Islamic cultural center in Orebro, told Swedish public radio. Orebro is a city of about 100,000 residents, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Stockholm.
Earlier, a handful of people, mostly youth, staged a separate demonstration outside the newspaper in defense of press freedom, TT reported.
Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson met with Lamhamdi but refused to apologize for the cartoon, which was part of an Aug. 19 editorial criticizing several Swedish art galleries for refusing to display a series of prophet drawings by Vilks.
“They say they are offended and I regret that, because our purpose was not to offend anyone,” Johansson told The Associated Press. “But they are asking for an apology and a promise that I never again publish a similar image ... and that I cannot do.”
The editorial defended “Muslims’ right to freedom of religion” but also said it must be permitted to “ridicule Islam’s most foremost symbols - just like all other religions’ symbols.”
Well, we know that is never going to happen because you can’t just tell someone that what their religion has always held as sacred is no longer above mocking. So what happens next?