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Danish court dismisses Muhammad cartoon lawsuit

A court in Denmark has dismissed a lawsuit against the Danish newspaper that first published the infamous Prophet Muhammad cartoons that sparked a firestorm of protest around the world.

A court in Denmark has dismissed a lawsuit against the Danish newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that sparked a firestorm of protest around the world.

The City Court in Aarhus dismissed the defamation lawsuit against Jyllands-Posten on Thursday, explaining its decision by saying that while the cartoons had offended some, there was no reason to believe the dozen drawings were intended to insult Muslims.

"It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims' honour, but there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims," the court said.

Jyllands-Posten officials called Thursday's decision a victory for freedom of the press, while the Muslim groups who jointly filed the lawsuit say they plan to launch an appeal.

Initial protest spreads around the globe

On Sept. 30, 2005, Jyllands-Posten printed thecartoons accompanied by text describing the feature as a challenge to many artists' perceived self-censorship regarding Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

Some Muslims believe any depiction of the Prophet — whether in a positive or negative light — is blasphemous because it could inspire idolatry.

Muslim groups in Denmark protested the publication of the drawings, claiming that they were intended to mock Islam.

However, the controversy exploded onto an international level when other newspapers across Europe — and then around the globe — reprinted the cartoons early this year. In some locations, the demonstrations grew violent, with protestors killed and various embassies attacked.

After prosecutors in Denmark declined to press criminal charges against the paper, a group of Muslim organizations filed the lawsuit in March. The plaintiffs had sought 100,000 Danish kroner (about $19,000) in damages from the Jyllands-Posten's editor-in-chief and the editor who was in charge of the cartoon assignment.

With files from the Associated Press