Danish law does prohibit certain kinds of criticism of religion and religious groups, but the prosecutor concludes that these cartoons didn't qualify. I'm on the road right now (up at Stanford for a conference on the jurisprudential legacies of Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O'Connor), so while I've read the ruling I don't have the time to blog more about it. But for now, the ruling suggests to me that (1) Danish prosecutors are willing to read Danish speech restrictions fairly narrowly, which is to their credit, but (2) despite this, Danish law does on its face bar a good deal of speech that's critical of religion, and in many cases it will be quite hard for publishers or speakers to tell up front how this law will be applied.

Thanks to Peter Herngaard for the pointer.

zevatron (mail) (www):
From here
[bold mine]

According to section 140 of the Criminal Code any person, who, in public, ridicules or insults the dogmas of worship of any lawfully existing religious community in Denmark shall be liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding four months or, in mitigating circumstances, to a fine. Section 266b of the Criminal Code criminalizes the dissemination of statements or other information by which a group of people are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of e.g. their religion.

In his decision the Regional Public Prosecutor states that the term "other information" in section 266b includes cartoons, just as cartoons must be considered covered bysection 140 considering that the object of the criminalisation is the insult and not the form, which the insult takes.

In his decision the Regional Public Prosecutor also states, that when assessing what constitutes a offence under section 140 and section 266b the right to freedom of speech must be taken into consideration and that the right to freedom of speech must be exercised with the necessary respect for other human rights, including the right to protection against discrimination, insult and degradation.

Criminalizing ridiculing or insulting the dogma of a religion is criminalized? Don't worry, the right to freedom of speech is taken into consideration. Wheh, I feel better...
3.17.2006 4:32pm
zevatron (mail) (www):
Oops, forget the "Criminalizing" before the "ridiculing" in previous post...
3.17.2006 4:34pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
I'm equally disturbed by "lawfully existing religious community."
3.17.2006 6:23pm
It seems to me that publishing a cartoon claiming paradise is out of virgins for virtuous terrorists jihadists is pretty insulting. Just what kind of paradise are Mohammed and Al Lah running anyway.
3.18.2006 12:03am