The caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed have caused an uprising throughout the Muslim world, while the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen persists that the publications of these caricatures were within the limitations of "freedom of expression". The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has now become involved in the controversial cartoon debate and reached two unanimous decisions over the matter, which could take the form of a conviction. The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper almost four months ago, however, the debate has reached a peak in recent days with other European newspapers now publishing the caricatures.
The ECHR has expressed the following decisions over certain actions that have been taken over the issue:
1- The Otto Preminger decision: A film insulting Christianity and Jesus cannot be considered freedom of expression. It is reasonable for Austria to ban it.
2- The Decision on Banned names: This book is insulting of Allah and religion. Freedom of expression does not mean defamation of Islam. It is reasonable for Turkey to ban it.
Literature, caricatures or films that injure people’s beliefs are not evaluated within the bounds of freedom of expression. Research undertaken by Hürriyet shows the European Court of Human Rights’ standpoint on this matter. While The ECHR has ruled ‘Otto-Preminger’ as an offence to Christianity and not within the boundaries of freedom of expression, its ruling on the ‘I.A’ case filed against Turkey also shows that publications that are offensive to Islam are not acceptable with regards to freedom of expression.
The ECHR decisions show that the ruling would favour the ‘country’ wishing to ban the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, should the case reach Strasbourg.