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Scholar to Discuss Global Uproar Over Danish Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad

RELEASED: March 29, 2006

Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan
Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan

EAU CLAIRE — The global response to the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad will be the topic of a multimedia presentation April 6 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, an associate professor of religion at UW-Oshkosh, will deliver the presentation, titled "The War of the Cartoons," at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in Room 101 of Hibbard Hall.

The "War of the Cartoons" is a scholarly multimedia presentation that examines the controversy over the Danish cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad. The presentation will place the global uproar over the cartoons in its political and religious context.

The presentation will begin with an examination of the Danish context — the recent elections and the simmering controversy over immigration policy in Denmark. The focus then will shift to the wider European context and the demographic factors that lead some to fear the Islamicization of Europe.

The European context is seen as particularly important, with the European contention that controversy should focus on free speech standing in contrast with Muslim charges of hypocrisy, Kaplan said. The accusations of hypocrisy have some validity given the stringent laws in EU states proscribing racial or ethnic incitement, expressions of overt anti-Judaism or Holocaust denial, he said.

The talk will then shift from immigrant Islam in Europe to the trajectory of the controversy throughout the Islamic world. Here, the role of states, religious organizations and of the Islamic community in the age of the Internet will be emphasized to illustrate the variety of perceptions and reaction in the Muslim world to the cartoons, Kaplan said.

Finally, the audio-visual dimension of the talk will present part of "Submission Part I," the film that led to the assassination of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh. It also will address anti-Western cartoons that are prevalent in the Islamic world in the wake of the American war on terrorism, the cartoons themselves and examples of graphic anti-Islamic sentiment that have appeared in Europe and the United States in recent years.

Kaplan is the author of numerous journal articles and the author or editor of 11 scholarly books, most of which examine religious violence and/or extremist groups. Kaplan, who has lived and taught in the Middle East, has a working knowledge of Arabic and Persian. He is organizing an international symposium on this topic to be held in Stockholm in June.

Event sponsors are the department of philosophy and religious studies, the department of history and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

For more information, contact Dr. Scott Lowe, chair of the philosophy and religious studies department, at (715) 836-2993 or lowed@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB

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