Bonus Material: Yale’s Experts Predicted Violence if Cartoons Were Published

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


Yale University’s decision not to reproduce the September 30, 2005, Jyllands-Posten cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons That Shook the World is the subject of today’s lead editorial by author Sherry Jones. Yale, for its part, issued a statement saying that it had consulted with numerous individuals who warned the school printing the cartoons would cause problems. Four individuals were cited in the statement, including:

Ibrahim Gambari, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and senior adviser to the secretary-general, {and} the highest ranking Muslim at the United Nations, who stated, “You can count on violence if any illustration of the Prophet is published. It will cause riots I predict from Indonesia to Nigeria.”

Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, dean of the under-secretaries-general, under-secretary-general {what?} of the United Nations, and special adviser to the secretary-general, said, “These images of Muhammad could and would be used as a convenient excuse for inciting violent anti-American actions.”

John Negroponte, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, U.S. director of national intelligence, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq and other nations, said, “There existed an appreciable chance of violence occurring if these images were published by the Press” and that “Yale University Press had to walk a fine line, given the possibility that these images of the Prophet Muhammad risked perpetuating this violent controversy, as well as distracting readers from serious scholarship on this important subject.”

Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs and chair of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale, said, “I agree completely with the other expert opinions Yale has received. If Yale publishes this book with any of the proposed illustrations, it is likely to provoke a violent outcry.”

The statement goes on to say “Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult,” adding, “The decision rested solely on the experts’ assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.”

READ: The full statement here.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.