The Case of Swedish Cartoon Artist Lars Vilks

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On 18 August 2007, Nerikes Allehanda published a series of cartoon works by Swedish cartoon artist Lars Vilks. The cartoon portrayed Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog. In Islamic tradition, it is considered highly blasphemous to make a picture of the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, the publication has induced severe protests in the Islamic communities. The crisis presented a moral dilemma in journalist practice: Freedom of Expression and prohibiting hate speech, making public statement to disrespect for any religious/ethnic group. As Sweden is the earliest country in the world to constitutionally introduce Free Press, Swedish Press Council has always been committed to protect Freedom of Expression/Press. No authority is allowed to make political decisions on what should be published in media during the process of news production. However, Sweden criminalized acts of public statements that express disrespect to any religious/ethnic group in Regeringens Proposition 2001/02:59. “This provision constitutes a restriction on the form of government constitutional freedom of expression; the penalty is imprisonment for up to two years. In minor cases, however, the penalty fines (Bodström, 2001).” In accordance with Swedish Press Council has an obligation to restrict offending journalist practice with respect to the public safety. To decide whether the cartoon could be defined as a practice of Free Press, as the newspaper claimed, or had intention to disrespect Islamic group

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