A Danish court on Friday sentenced Somali Islamist Muhideen Mohammed Geelle to nine years in prison for his 2010 attack on Kurt Westergaard, illustrator of the controversial 2005 cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] as a suicide bomber. Geele was convicted [Copenhagen Post report] on Thursday on charges of attempted murder and terrorism for breaking into [JURIST report] Westergaard's home and threatening him with an axe and knife. In issuing its ruling, the court stated that Geele's attack amounted to an attempt to destabilize Danish society [DW report] and terrify the public. Upon completion of his sentence, Geele will face permanent expulsion from Denmark and deportation to Somalia. Lawyers for Geele had requested a lesser sentence of six years without deportation, expressing fear for Geele's safety if deported to Somalia due to present dangers in the war-torn nation. Geele's lawyers have announced that they will appeal the sentence.
Westergaard's 2005 picture of the Muhammad was one of a series of caricatures published by a Danish newspaper that infuriated Muslims around the world. Many Muslims consider depictions of Muhammad offensive, and when other newspapers reprinted the caricatures in 2006 it triggered violence in several countries, leading to multiple deaths, the burning of Danish embassy buildings[JURIST reports], and boycotts of Danish goods. In April, a Dutch court acquitted [JURIST report] the Arab European League (AEL) on charges of making discriminatory and defamatory statements against Jews when they posted a cartoon on their website that insinuated that the Holocaust was fabricated. The AEL argued that they posted the cartoon in response to what they saw as double standard in the distribution of Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad even though they did not actually deny the historical facts of the Holocaust.