BERLIN – A Turkish lobby group said yesterday it has filed a criminal complaint against a German newspaper for printing a series of blasphemous Danish cartoons last month. It said the complaint was filed with prosecutors in the northern city of Cologne, charging the daily Die Welt with violating Germany’s criminal code by printing 12 cartoons despite global unrest sparked by their initial appearance in a Danish paper. While freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the German constitution, the country’s law forbids public insults against religious societies, beliefs and groups that support specific world views. It is not the point of a free Press to insult the religious sensibilities of nearly 3 million Muslims in Germany with provocations of this kind, Abdullah Emil, general secretary of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), said. Guenther Feld, a public prosecutor in Cologne, where the UETD is based, confirmed receiving the complaint and said he would study it. Even if the prosecutors decided to formally press charges, Feld told Reuters it was unclear whether it would be handled in Cologne or Hamburg, where the daily’s owner, German newspaper publisher Axel Springer, is based. Axel Springer’s spokeswoman, Silvie Rundel, said there were currently no official legal complaints, or complaints by the German media watchdog pending against Die Welt. On Wednesday, Denmark’s own public prosecutor decided not to press charges against a newspaper for allegedly violating Denmark’s blasphemy law by printing the 12 blasphemous drawings which triggered widespread Muslim anger. The cartoons, later reprinted in other countries, provoked protests among Muslims. At least 50 people were killed in protests in the Middle East and Asia, three Danish embassies were attacked and many Muslims boycotted Danish goods. Last month a German court convicted a businessman of insulting Islam. He was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service.
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word “Koran” on toilet paper and offering it to mosques. The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled. The conviction comes after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad — sparking violent protests around the world from Muslims who saw the images as sacrilegious and an attack on their beliefs. Manfred van H. printed out sheets of toilet paper bearing the word “Koran” shortly after a group of Muslims carried out a series of bomb attacks in London in July 2005. He sent the paper to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques. Prosecutors said that in an accompanying letter Manfred van H. called Islam’s holy book a “cookbook for terrorists.” He also offered his toilet paper for sale on the Internet at a price of 4 euros ($4.76) per roll, saying the proceeds would go toward a “memorial to all the victims of Islamic terrorism.” The maximum sentence for insulting religious beliefs under the German criminal code is three years in prison.