Muslim anger over perceived Western insults to Islam has erupted into dangerous explosions several times, most recently in Tuesday’s attacks against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The violence, fueled mostly by religious zealots, reflects the tension between Muslims and the secular West that followed the September 11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here are some of the most serious incidents that have unfolded over the past decade:
The September 2005 publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad unleashed a wave of violent protests by Muslims, who believe any image of their religion’s founder is forbidden. Dozens of people were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. At least six people were killed in a June 2008 suicide bombing at the Danish embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility, citing anger over the cartoons. The Danish government described the Muslim backlash as the country’s worst international crisis since World War II.
VAN GOGH ASSASSINATION
Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, an outspoken critic of Islam whose film “Submission” criticized the treatment of Muslim women, was shot dead in November 2004 as he bicycled in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. A 26-year-old Dutch citizen of Moroccan origin, Mohammed Bouyeri, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Van Gogh’s assassination set off a wave of more than 170 small reprisal attacks against mosques and churches over the following weeks, according to a report by the Anne Frank Foundation and the University of Leiden.
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